History of Pilates method

The Pilates training method is known for its effectiveness, having gained the trust of millions of people for more than eighty years.

Joseph Pilates, a multi-talented and brilliant personality, born in Germany in 1883 with a gymnast father of Greek origin, invented the method of strengthening and musculoskeletal rehabilitation.

He seems from his biography to have been a sickly child. He suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He devoted his entire life to improve his physical strength. He was introduced by his father to gymnastics and bodybuilding, as well as martial arts such as Jiu-jitsu and boxing. Joseph Pilates believed that modern lifestyle, poor posture and inefficient breathing were at the root of poor health. Pilates was originally a gymnast and bodybuilder, but when he moved to England in 1912 he also excelled as a professional boxer and self-defense instructor in police academy and Scotland Yard. During World War I he was imprisoned in a concentration camp in Wright island, in England. There he had the opportunity to train his teammates with floor exercises, such as those we know today as Pilates.

After a year of imprisonment, he was transferred to the Isle of Man. There he was able to perfect his method by training injured men. He held their injured limbs with straps and rings tied to a stable stand that he placed over the hospital bed. This allowed injured people to strengthen their limbs without causing problems to their bones and muscles. This experience served Joseph Pilates to come up with the practice we know today in all Pilates studios around the world. While imprisoned he teached his companions boxing. After the war, he returned home and together with other former prisoners brought boxing to Germany, which had been banned until then. At that time Joseph Pilates also worked as a trainer for the Berlin police. In 1926 he emigrated to New York in America. There he created “The Pilates Universal Gymnasium” on 8th Avenue, in a unique building, the Van Dyck Studios, where many artists lived. During his 38-year career Pilates had a lot of famous clients: the entire New York elite, celebrities, artists and even royalty passed through his class. Even Martha Graham did Pilates in his famous studio. Pilates died in 1967 but he managed to teach his art to many teachers, who in turn trained others. The Pilates method managed to spread around the world and became the favorite training exercise of millions of people, mainly for its therapeutic benefits.