Pilates allegro class on the Reformer

Pilates on the barrel

Pilates on the combo chair

Pilates on the combo chair

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Joseph Hubertus Pilates

(1880 – 1967) was the inventor of the Pilates physical fitness method

Born in Düsseldorf, to parents of Greek and German ancestry, he came to believe that our modern life-style, bad posture, and inefficient breathing were the roots of poor health. His father was a prize-winning gymnast of Greek origin and his mother a naturopath of German origin. His name was originally spelled by its Greek derivation "Pilatu" but was changed to Pilates. This caused him much grief because, as a child, older boys taunted him calling him "Pontius Pilate, killer of Christ". Joseph suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever as a youth. To overcome the effects of poor health, as well as the taunting of other kids, he studied body building, diving, skiing, and gymnastics and developed a series of exercises.

Pilates moved to England in 1912 and worked as a boxer, circus performer, and a self defense trainer of English detectives. When he was interned at a camp in Lancaster with other Germans as 'enemy aliens' during World War I, Pilates spent the time to further develop his exercise techniques.

In 1926, Pilates  he emigrated to New York and established a studio with his wife Clara teaching his exercises to dancers, including Martha Graham and George Balanchine, as well as actors and athletes. He also invented an exercise apparatus by attaching springs to hospital beds for immobilized patients.

Pilates wrote several books and had a number of disciples who continued to teach variations of his method.

Copyright 2006│Joseph Pilates