"Change happens through movement and movement heals" Joseph Pilates
Joseph Pilates was born near Düsseldorf, Germany in 1883. Little is known about his early life, but he appears to have been a frail child, suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. His drive and determination to overcome these ailments led him to become a competent gymnast, diver and skier.
In 1912 Pilates lived in England working as a circus performer, boxer and self-defence instructor. During the First World War, he was interned with other German nationals. During this time he developed his technique of physical fitness further, by teaching his fellow internees. During the latter part of the War, he served as an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man where he worked with patients unable to walk.
Pilates emigrated to the USA in the early 1920s with his wife Clara, and together they developed and taught the method in their ‘body-conditioning gym’ in New York in 1926. The studio featured much of the Apparatus designed to enhance his rehabilitation work and soon became very popular.
Through the writing of publications his method was passed on after his death in 1967 at the age of 83. During his lifetime this method of exercise was called Contrology. It was only after his death that it became known as the Pilates Method.
While Joseph is the man behind the method, it was his wife Clara that became the real teacher in the studio and was known to be the nurturing force behind the technique and Clara evolved and adapted the method to suit the individual needs of clients. This is a tradition Pilates Foundation Teachers are proud to continue.
Joseph Pilates based his work on three principles: Breath, whole-body health and whole-body commitment; with the whole-body incompassing mind, body and spirit.
It is in the honouring of the Pilates Principles that the depth of the work is achieved. These Principles are traditionally cited as: