History of Pilates

 
Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.
— Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates

The Pilates Method was first developed by Joseph Pilates, a German from Mönchengladbach who, while living in England in the 1910s, had the unfortunate luck of going from self-defense instructor at Scotland Yard to prisoner-of-war after the outbreak of WWI. Never one to be discouraged, Joseph Pilates spend his internment time developing a system of exercises - which he first dubbed "Contrology" - and taught them to his fellow prisoners in an effort to keep them healthy and rehabilitate those with injuries. These exercises focused on improving posture by creating a lean, lengthened musculature and developing a strong "powerhouse" (what many people refer to as the core).

What first began as a series of mat exercises developed into much more when, as the years progressed, Pilates began building all sorts of machines and devices out of mattress springs and other repurposed items. He would use these contraptions to add resistance elements to his series of exercises. These machines would develop into what we know today as the Reformer, Cadillac, Tower, and Wunda Chair.

Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates would eventually move to New York City where, with his third wife Clara, he opened the first fitness studio devoted to his Method, which shared an address with the New York City Ballet. The Pilates Method quickly became the training method of choice for professional dancers and dance students, followed quickly by Hollywood actors and other elites, for its "strength without bulk" and body-morphing benefits. As Pilates grew older, he would train and certify several of his most devoted students to carry on his legacy. When he passed away in 1967 at 83 years old, he left behind no will and therefore no specifics as to how his legacy and the Pilates Method should be continued.