Born in Germany in 1880, Joseph Pilates grew up a frail, sick child. With the help of his parents, he healed himself and was committed to unlocking the secrets of health and well-being. He studied the exercise regimens of many ancient cultures, including Zen, yoga, and ancient Greek and Roman philosophies. He understood the benefits of the sun and of conditioning the muscles of the body. He paid particular attention to what he called the "powerhouse" - made up of all the abdominal, back, upper thigh, and gluteal muscles. Flexibility and strength of the spine were critical components of his body conditioning exercises.
During World War I, Joseph Pilates was interned with other German citizens at a camp. It was there that he helped fellow inmates recover from their injuries through his innovative system of body conditioning. He would attach springs to hospital beds and help immobilized patients gain strength and full recovery. Pilates was proud to state that not one of his "patients" died from the deadly flu virus that was rampant in England at that time, particularly in the camps.
On the ship to America, Pilates met his future wife, Clara. A kindergarten teacher with arthritis, Clara was moved by Joseph's care as he worked to relieve her arthritic suffering. Once in New York, the couple opened a gym on Eighth Avenue, in the same building as a number of dance studios. Over time, many of the dancers came to see Joe and Clara for training and rehab work.
Joseph Pilates was an avid sportsman and enjoyed boxing, skiing, gymnastics and diving, until his death at age 87. Teaching Joseph Pilates' original system of body conditioning has become an honor and passion for so many teachers today. While not physically here, Joseph Pilates' spirit indeed lives on within his current teachers.Contact Us