The term ‘Pilates’ and the Pilates method of conditioning exercises originate from the work developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates (1880 – 1967).
Joseph was born in 1880 near Dusseldorf, Germany. He suffered from ill health as
a child, but determined to overcome his frailties he dedicated his life to
becoming physically stronger. He worked hard at improving his fitness through
body building, diving, skiing, gymnastics, boxing and self defence. In 1912
Pilates travelled to England to work as a boxer, circus performer and self
defence instructor. On the outbreak of war he was interned due to his
Nationality – this gave him the opportunity to refine his ideas about health &
fitness by working with fellow interns.
He was so successful in his fitness training that on return from Germany after
the war Pilates was invited to train the new German army. Realising the
implications of this he made a decision to emigrate to the USA. On this journey
he met his future wife Clara, who became an experienced teacher in his method of
exercise (called Contrology), and they set up their first studio in New York in
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