Pilates origins

 Joseph Pilates' belief that "physical fitness is the first requisite to happiness."  Born in Germany in 1880, Joe suffered as a child from muscular weakness due to asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. In an effort to overcome his limitations, he dedicated his life to becoming physically stronger. Joe became accomplished in sports as a boxer, gymnast, wrestler and skier in addition to practicing yoga and meditation. 

 

At the outset of WWI, Joe was placed under forced internment.  It was in the camps that he refined his ideas of the Pilates regimen, which he referred to as "Controlology".  He trained other internees, including those who were bedridden. Joe took springs from their beds and used them to create resistance, wherein he began to rehabilitate the other internees.  This led to his later designs and the birth of the Pilates Reformer and Tower, which both function today as remarkable tools in rehabilitation and the development of true muscular balance and strength. 


In the 1920's, Joe brought his method to NYC with his wife Clara and they opened the first Pilates studio. They rented a small space in the same building as The NYC Ballet, where his method was quickly adopted by the ballet world as an adjunct to their work.  Joe trained clients of all ages and disciplines until his death in 1967 at the age of 87.