Pilates Illustration

History of Pilates

Joseph Pilates was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1883; a sickly child suffering from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. He dedicated his entire life to improving his physicality and strength, ultimately developing an exercise programme he referred to as Contrology that restored him to optimal health.

In 1912, he left Germany for the UK, where he became a professional boxer, an expert skier and diver, as well as being employed by Scotland Yard to teach self-defence to Scotland Yard detectives.

During World War 1 the British authorities interned him on the Isle of Man with other german nationals, and it was here that he taught and practiced his physical fitness programme, and began devising equipment to aid the rehabilitation of the injured, disabled and sick.

After the war he settled in the United States, where he met his wife Clara and opened his first studio in New York in 1926. This attracted a diverse population of socialites, gymnasts, circus performers and athlete and members of the dance community who truly recognised his deep understanding of the workings of the human body, and embraced Contrology.

Joseph Pilates was a man well ahead of his time and years after his death, his work has possibly spearheaded a revolution in the world of the fitness and an evolution of the wellness industry. Pilates is now recognised by many in the health profession as a great way to build up core strength, stability, and improve posture and overall body alignment.

Return to life through Contrology is the original Pilates exercise book written by Joseph Pilates, which was first published in 1945. Pilates eventually came to London in the late 1970’s.