History of Joseph Pilates





 Early Days

Joseph Pilates 1883-1967

Joseph was born in Germany in 1883.  As a child, Pilates was a sickly and suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. His mother was a German naturopath who encouraged him to find natural ways of healing. His father was a Greek who introduced him to bodybuilding and gymnastics. Joseph was motivated ever since he was young to find ways to make himself healthy and strong.

Pilates Creates his Method

Joseph developed a regiment he called  “Contrology”. This method had influences of: greek calisthenics, gymnastics, swimming, martial arts, yoga and diving. As Joseph practiced this it gave him strength and well being. He also saw how it helped others. Pilates came to believe that the “modern” life-style of bad posture, and inefficient breathing lay at the roots of poor health. He wrote books on his method and engineered all the equipment, specifications, and tuning required to teach his methods properly. He opened a studio in New York City in 1925 after immigrating from Europe.  There he devoted his life to teaching his method and sharing it with his beloved students. As the method got popular, the name “Pilates” overtook the “Contrology” name.


After the death of Joseph Pilates in 1967, his students continued to teach his method- they are called “Elders”. Today, every teacher who teaches Pilates has learned it from one of the elders or a student of that elder. Pilates is a handed down method taught by people who strive to preserve the spirit and genius behind Joseph’s work. And as each Elder passes away, it is left to the current generation to carry on Josephs legacy.  His work has been proven to be an intelligent and trusted technique for anyone wanting to achieve physical fitness. Joseph Pilates knew he was “ahead of his time” when he was teaching it. Even though his method was unheard of until the 1980’s,  he knew someday it would gain momentum. He said:

“someday the whole world will be doing my method.”