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Pilates: faddish affectation of the effete elite?

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... or an on-the-level workout? Truth is, it's a little of both. While most of us never heard of it before celebs like Carrie-Ann Moss and Jennifer Anniston began dropping the P-bomb in interviews (Moss described her training regimen in prepping for The Matrix: "lots and lots of Pilates") , Pilates has been well known to athletes, especially dancers, for nearly 80 years. Here are some highlights from its colorful history:

"¢ German founder Joseph Pilates had a noble motivation for designing his get-fit regimen: so he could best the bullies who tortured him at school. Born a sickly weakling, he was a natural target, so he studied anatomy and worked out like a maniac. By age fourteen, not only had the bigger kids stopped taking his lunch money and calling him "Christ killer" (a clever play on his last name), he was in such good shape that he was asked to pose for anatomy charts.

"¢ After distinguishing himself as a pugilist, swimmer, diver and gymnast, WWI found him interned at a camp for "enemy aliens" in the UK. Also trained as a nurse, Pilates began to develop a system of physical rehabilitation which wounded soldiers in the camp's hospital could perform in their beds -- thus the Pilates Reformer (pictured above), based on modified WWI-era hospital beds.


"¢ Pilates founded a famous training studio in New York in 1926, later publishing a book about his new method, modestly titled Your Health: A Corrective System of Exercising That Revolutionizes the Entire Field of Physical Education.

"¢ Known as a lover of whiskey and women as well as a fitness freak, Pilates was mildly notorious for his "hands-on" training sessions.

"¢ Another lover of women and Pilates, actor Hugh Grant, has claimed that he has "muscles of steel and could easily deal with giving birth" thanks to his workouts.

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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


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