About Joseph Pilates

040916_0565wbJoseph Pilates, was born in 1880, in Dusseldorf, Germany.  As a child he suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever.  Pilates had the determination to overcome these weaknesses and become stronger.  That drive helped him to create  movements and exercises to help him be strong and healthy.

In 1912 Pilates moved to England to become a boxer and also worked in a circus. As a German, in England during World War 1, he was sent to prison.  He shared his exercise techniques with the other prisoners.  Many of the prisoners survived the influenza outbreak of 1918 due to the health benefits of his method of strengthening the body.  Pilates believed that connecting with your body and making it stronger, made your mind stronger.  Thus the beginning of the mind-body connection and how important it is.  Pilates was then sent to the Isle of Man to work with soldiers that had been injured in the war.  Many of the soldiers were bed ridden and could not walk, but could still move their limbs while lying down.  Pilates attached the bed springs above the beds so the soldiers could push and pull them with there arms or legs.  It worked.  The soldiers recovery time was much shorter due to the exercising.   From here on out Pilates developed over 500 exercises to facilitate the mind-body connection.  In 1945 he wrote a book called, “Return to Life Through Contrology.”  Pilates described it as, “complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.”  The exercises he created encourage the student to be fluid and to perform the movements with quality, instead of doing many repetitions incorrectly.  Exercising in this way, allowed the muscles to  became stronger and longer, instead of  short and tight.

After World War 1, Pilates went home to Germany.  In 1926 he decided to move to the United States.  He met his wife Clara, who was a nurse, they decided to open a studio in New York on Eighth Ave., near the dance district.  Many dancers came to work with Pilates.  He was able to help them heal their injuries and make them stronger.  The Pilates method allowed them to keep dancing.  He worked with the New York City Ballet and Martha Graham.  He also worked and trained Kathy Grant, a dancer, who was my first Pilates teacher at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.  Pilates taught up until his death in 1967.

2 thoughts on “About Joseph Pilates

  1. Hi. Just checking – do you have my permission to publish my Joe
    Pilates images appearing on your website. The fee for web usage is $175 PER image. Please respond with details of payment to me – OR remove the images.

    Thank you for your cooperation,

    I C Rapoport

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