Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880 and, through his early life, suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. His drive and determination to overcome these ailments led him to become a competent gymnast, diver and skier.
The conception of Pilates Equipment classes
Pilates later served during the First World War as an Orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man. Here, he was working with patients who were unable to walk. He discovered that attaching bed springs to the hospital beds helped support the patients' limbs.
The first Pilates studio Pilates emigrated to the USA in the early 1920s, opening a 'body-conditioning studio' with his wife Clara, in New York, 1926. It soon became very popular, particularly with dancers, as it offered a chance to improve technique or recover from injury. Word spread quickly and many celebrities of the day visited his studio.
Early techniques + the ‘Contrology' programme Pilates called his programme ‘Contrology' and this became his life's work until his death in 1967. During his life he continued to evolve his techniques, develop a large number of exercises + design ingenious equipment to strengthen the body's ‘powerhouse'; the band of muscles that wrap around the spine just below the waist.
Evolution of the Pilates method It was only after his death that his work became known as Pilates or the Pilates method. The Pilates method has gradually evolved and integrated current biomechanical thinking. However, the roots of the technique are steeped in the philosophy + movement patterns designed by Joseph Pilates over 70 years ago.