6 Facts about the Pilates Method

pilates method joseph pilates

Many people have never heard of Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates method. It’s not uncommon to hear people remark “Oh, was the Pilates method started by a person?”


Here are the top 6 things you should know about Joseph Pilates and the Pilates method:


– Pilates was originally called ‘Contrology’ as it was created around the art of control. It is an exercise method which focuses on controlling your body, mind, and muscles.


– The original work of Joseph Pilates was based on mat work. Joe started out with 34 mat exercises, all of which are still taught in studios around the world to this day. This sequence of mat exercises is commonly known as the Classical 34.


– Joseph Pilates was born in 1883 and died in 1967, at the age of 84. He was decades ahead of his time and believed that movement was the key to health and wellbeing. He is quoted as saying “change happens through movement, and movement heals”.

pilates method joseph pilates

– As a child, Joseph had asthma and other conditions, so he turned to exercise and athletics as a means of improving his health. He broadened his knowledge by studying various exercise disciplines and became adept in a range of different sports. Essentially, Joseph Pilates healed himself with movement and proceeded to develop and share the Pilates method with the world.


Pilates equipment was invented by Joseph Pilates during the World War I.  In 1912, before the war, Joseph left Germany for England, where he worked as a self-defence instructor for Scotland Yard detectives. At the outbreak of World War I, Joe (along with other German nationals living in England) was interned as an “enemy alien”. It was during his internment that he refined his exercise ideas, training other internees, and helping bedridden patients to exercise by attaching springs to hospital beds. This innovation was a precursor to his later equipment designs.


Joseph Pilates’ wife Clara, played a significant role in the original Pilates studio, which the couple opened in New York, after emigrating to the US in 1926. While Joe tirelessly promoted the benefits of his exercise method, Clara diligently incorporated his concepts and exercises into treatments that aimed at rehabilitating seriously ill or injured clients. In this way, Clara played a significant role in the Pilates method being recognised as a movement-based exercise that can be tailored to any level of fitness, health or injury.

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