The History of Pilates



Joseph PilatesJoseph H. Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. Being born a frail child, suffering from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever, Joseph quickly became dedictaed to becoming stronger, later becoming an accomplished skier, diver, gymnast and boxer.

It was whilst interned in England during World War I for his German citizenship that Joseph became a nurse. During this time, he designed exercise apparatus for immobilized patients by attaching springs to hospital beds. This system formed the foundation for his style of body conditioning and specialized exercise apparatus.

It is rumoured that these efforts were so successful that when the 1918 flu epidemic swept the world,  not one of his followers died, even  though thousands of others succumbed.

Joseph returned to Germany after the war and in 1925 was invited to train the New German Army but decided to head for the US instead.  It was on this journey that he met his future wife, Clara.

Upon their arrival in New York City they opened a gym close to a number of Ballet and Dance Schools and in doing so found a captive audience.

Joseph Pilates was a determined man and a health fanatic, he was also a little eccentric (how else would you describe someone who runs down the street in a bikini - and in the winter!)  He was also renowned for his liking of cigars, whiskey, and women.

Joseph Pilates died in 1967, aged 87. His wife Clara, continued to teach and run their studio until her death 10 years later.

Currently, the Pilates Method is used internationally by individuals at all levels of fitness as well as by dance companies, Broadway shows, students at performing arts schools and universities, sports teams, spa clients, and fitness enthusiasts at private health clubs and gyms.