There can be no doubt that Joseph H. Pilates was one of the most dynamic, creative and foreword thinking people in the world of exercise. His exercise program has endured the test of time and helps rehab professional athletes, dancers and the Hollywood elite. Few people who take Pilates today, understand the origins of this work so let me give you the history of Pilates.
Joseph Pilates was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1883. By all accounts, he was a sickly child suffering from asthma and rickets. Because of this, he began studying different types of eastern movement such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Greco -Roman exercise that incorporated the mind-body connection. He also studied the movements of animals as he found them to be efficient in movement. During this time, he became a circus performer, a diver, skier and boxer.
During World War I, Joseph was interned in a prison camp on the Isle of Man where he began to train the prisoners. He utilized springs from hospital beds to add resistance to his exercises. During this time, there was an influenza outbreak that resulted in the death of thousands but his trainees all survived. His work did not go unnoticed by the "Brown Shirts" and they quickly tried to recruit him because of his effectiveness in keeping people heathy.
When Jospeh was released he returned to Germany and he was courted by the German military but decided to leave for America.
On the trip across the Atlantic, he met his soon to be wife, Clara. They opened a studio in on 8th Avenue in New York City and began teaching "Contrology" to many eager students including dancers from the New York City Ballet. His approach to proper form and breath work were instrumental to creating a movement that is thriving all over the globe.