The History of Pilates




Joseph Pilates, the originator of the Pilates Method, was born in Dusseldorf in 1880.  He was a frail, sickly child, who suffered from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever.  He was determined to overcome his fragility, but instead of following an established fitness regime, he experimented with many different approaches.  Yoga, gymnastics, skiing, self defence, dance, circus training, and weight training all influenced him.  By absorbing these methods and selecting the most effective aspects of each, Pilates was able to work out a system which had the perfect balance of strength and flexibility.

Having proven their worth on his own body, he began to teach these techniques to others.  He was training detectives in Scotland Yard when the First World War broke out.  Because of his nationality, he was interned.  With time on his hands, he helped out in the camp infirmary and further developed his techniques, training his fellow internees with amazing success.  Much of his knowledge of rehabilitation came from this period.

After the war he returned to Germany, but in 1926 he decided to emigrate to the United States of America.  On the boat he met his future wife, Clara.  When they realised that they shared the same views on fitness, they decided to set up a studio in New York.  This attracted top ballet dancers, actors, actresses, gymnasts, and athletes, all anxious to learn from Pilates.