Joseph Pilates

Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in 1883 in Mönchengladbach, Germany. He grew up to be a brewer and enjoyed sports. He was born when people became aware of their bodies and started caring for them. Through various sources, from German gymnastics to Eastern methods, he taught himself a lot and developed his unique approach.

During World War I, Joseph was imprisoned in England on the Isle of Man. There, he was surrounded by well-trained fellow German prisoners who inspired him with their knowledge about body and health. He also had many books on exercise science at his disposal.

After his release from prison, he began to give shape to his method – Art of Contrology, as he called it – by developing devices for his clients. The Foot Corrector and Reformer were created during this period. In 1926, he left for the United States to find an audience for his method. Slowly, he developed a large group of clients, including lawyers, actors, dancers, and musicians, mainly from New York. Dancers, in particular, were attracted to the method, and eventually many became Pilates instructors.

He continued to develop equipment and invent exercises to make the equipment purchase attractive. Although his method was picked up, Pilates did not immediately become successful; his personality often bothered him to market the method and make it profitable. Nevertheless, he created a well-developed method and helped many people during his lifetime.

More than 50 years after his death (1967), his method can still be practised everywhere, though often not in its full or poor versions. But his name lives on and continues to inspire young people too.