|Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Germany in 1880.
As a child, he was thin and asthmatic, and lacked the strength to
fight back when bullied. These circumstances were instrumental in
his decision to begin a lifelong search for the ultimate way to
restore health through fitness.
By the time he reached his lates teenage years, he had already developed
an impressive physique and was modeling for anatomy charts. Successful
at boxing and gymnastics, he moved to England in 1912 to pursue
his training and even ended up working in a circus.
During the First World War, he was interned in a camp with other
German nationals, where he taught wrestling and self-defense. This
led him to create his own system of exercises, which later became
known as Contrology. At another camp,
he worked with fellow interns suffering from wartime diseases. This
inspired him to put together equipment using readily available materials
such as bedsprings, which he turned into exercise apparatus to help
rehabilitate those who were bedridden. This creativity gave rise
to some of the equipment used in today's Pilates studios, such as
the Reformer, the Cadillac and the Wunda Chair.
After the war, Pilates returned to Germany and trained the Hamburg
Military Police in self-defense. At age 45, he moved to the United
States, where he met his second wife, Clara. Together, they opened
the first Pilates studio in a neighborhood that happened to be filled
with dance studios. Many of the dancers gradually made their way
to Pilates for rehabiliation work, cementing the beginnings of his
reputation throughout New York and nationwide.
Since the 1980's, the Pilates method has come to set the standard
for many in the fitness world as one of the most comprehensive exercise
systems available. Pilates himself was a great believer in balancing
the mind, body and spirit. Believing that modern lifestyle was in
many ways detrimental to health and posture, he developed a system
of physical exercises that would correct muscular imbalance, improve
breathing and enhance overall health.
The Pilates method now comprises over 500 exercises that may be
done on a mat or on one of the many pieces of apparatus that Joseph