Did you know that Joseph Pilates invented many pieces of furniture to help bring fitness and body awareness into our everyday lives? Today, pilates studios are full of his recognizable pilates equipment, but there were many other similar pieces of equipment that he personally used, advertised, and advocated.
He called his line of furniture, "Pilates Automatic Balanced Health Furniture".
One very interesting invention was "The Pilates Health Bed". This was a V-shaped bed with a long trough down the middle. In his book, Your Health, Joseph Pilates show photos and writes about how the body can sleep more healthfully in this new bed:
"...note the manner in which he rests- like the cat or dog- in his natural position... This is the natural bed for the hospital for expectant mothers, asthma sufferers, and consumptives."
There is a man, Geoff Jones, who has actually recreated Joe's bed by following the instructions found in Joe Pilate's 1930 patent. You can view the bed on his site:
When looking at the bed, you probably can't help but wonder if its actually more comfortable than a regular bed. Mary Pilates, Joe's living neice and former student of his, says in a recent interview that she used to sleep in one of his beds when she was younger, and she doesn't recall it being uncomfortable.
Another piece of furniture was "Pilates Natural Balanced Chair". He had a few different styles of these chairs, which he also shows in his book, Your Health. He designed chairs for people of every age to be able to sit comfortably:
"A chair for every purpose- from the kindergarden child to the aged adult suffering...from the effects of bad posture or lack of exercise."
He often designed multi-purpose, convertible furniture- half for sitting/sleeping and half for exercise. You can imagine this when you think of the cadillac (half bed/half exercise equipment). Some studios today have a version of the Wunda Chair, which is made today by Peak Pilates. This chair is the Low Chair that we all know and love, but converts to a sitting chair that has the look of a regular piece of furniture, according to one of Joe's original designs.
Reading what Joe wrote about the pain inducing effects of sitting and sleep on uncomfortable furniture, you would almost think he wrote all of this yesterday. I need a new bed! I'm not sure if I'm totally sold on the "V-shaped Bed", but if Joe said it was good for me, I'd love to at least try it!
There is a dvd available on the Power Pilates website of archival footage with Joe demonstrating the uses of his equipment. Here is the link: