History of Joseph H Pilates
Joseph H Pilates was born in Monchengladbach, Germany on Dec 9, 1883.
His father was involved in fitness and sport, holistic therapies such as hydrotherapy, trigger point therapy and breath work which influenced Pilates development.
In 1913 Pilates traveled to England finding work as a circus tumbler and when World War 1 broke out Pilates and his circus troupe were taken into custody.
During that time he led the camp’s daily exercise routines for more then 24, 000 inmates housed there. This is where he developed his ideas on fitness and gained experience as a teacher.
After the war in 1919 he returned to Germany
In the 1920’s Pilates worked in Berlin as a trainer with famous boxing manager Arthur Beulow.
Pilates was asked to train the German military police, but became aware that the government was attempting to rebuild it’s military. Not happy with this he decided to pack it up and immigrate to America in April 1926. His bother Fred who already lived in America helped him to make several improvements to his original apparatus which included placing the frame closer to the ground and replacing the original weight stack with coiled springs, then adding leather straps.
This was originally called “Universal Reformer”. Pilates called his program “Corrective Exercise” and later rebranded it “Contrology”.
He met Anna Clara Zeuner, a nursery school teacher. Clara became a partner in developing and teaching his method.
In 1929 Pilates opened the Universal Gymnasium in New York City.
In the heart of the dance community of New York City Pilates developed a reputation for his ability to “fix” dancers injuries.
Dancers would would train with Pilates and learn the “method” of Contrology and became “first generation” Pialtes teachers and later refered to as the elders.
Among them were Carola Trier, Eve Gentry, Ron Fletcher, Kathleen Standford Grant, Bruce King, Lolita San Miguel and many others.
Pilates continued to develop and invent exercise equipment such as Trapeze Table ( today known as the Cadillac) Wunda Chair, Magic Circle, Foot Corrector, Ped-O-Pull, Head Harness, Toe and Finger Correctors, Spine Corrector, Ladder Barrel and a variety of devices that he used to correct and improve posture and breath control through movement.
Today there are all forms and styles of Pilates but nothing stays truer to its form than Classical Pilates.
Return to Life Through Contrology by Joseph H. Pilates
The PMA Pilates Study Guide (Pilates Method Alliance)