Joseph Pilates is the developer and founder of Pilates. He was born in Germany in 1880 and was a sick child who developed a strong interest in physical fitness at an early age to try and overcome his illnesses. He started body building and was very strong in his teenage years. He researched and practiced many different kinds of exercises, studying both eastern and western forms. Over the years, he was involved in gymnastics, yoga, kickboxing, boxing, martial arts and even circus performing. During WWI he was interned at a war camp with wounded soldiers. He developed a body conditioning system that focused on rehabilitation to help the injured recover. He also worked as a nurse and conventional treatment at the time was bed rest. However, Joseph felt exercise was needed. According to legend Joseph was told, “you can do anything you like with the patients, as long as they stay in bed.” He rigged the bed springs to bed posts to allow for resistance exercises in bed. His Pilates equipment emerged from this!
His work developed into the exercises and equipment now known as Pilates. He immigrated to the United States in 1926 and opened a successful studio in New York City with his wife Clara. This studio was next to New York City Ballet where he taught until he died at eighty seven. Pilates became an instant hit among dancers and is now widely used in private studios and gyms across America for people of all fitness levels. Pilates was initially called “Controlology” as a true mind-body form of exercise.
After a 2000 Manhattan’s federal court decision, Pilates was declared a generic exercise method and not a trademarked name. There are many different forms of Pilates available today which can make it slightly confusing. We practice classical Pilates, which is dedicated to preserving the initial intention, order and form of Joseph’s work.