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One of the most popular exercise systems in the world today, Pilates was developed By Joseph Pilates in the early 1900’s. Born near Düsseldorf, Germany in 1880, Joseph Hubertus Pilates had a lifelong interest in body conditioning. Small and sickly as a child, he was afflicted with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Dedicated to becoming stronger, young Pilates educated himself in anatomy, bodybuilding, wrestling, yoga, gymnastics and martial arts. As a result, he came to believe that our modern lifestyle, bad posture and inefficient breathing were the roots of poor health.
Pilates answer to these problems was to develop a unique series of vigorous physical exercises designed to improve posture, coordination, balance, strength, flexibility, breathing capacity and organ function. He also invented a variety of spring resistance machines upon which these exercises could be performed.
Pilates had a unique inspiration for his new apparatuses. Held in an enemy internment camp in England, during World War I, he worked as a nurse with injured war victims. Convinced that exercise would help rehabilitate their bed-ridden, badly damaged bodies, he rigged up hospital beds with straps and bedsprings and created a series of resistance-based exercises. Eventually, many of the injured were able to get up and move around by themselves.
This system, (originally called ‘Contrology’) formed the foundation of his mind-body conditioning system, which he brought to New York City, where he opened the first New York Pilates Studio® in 1926.
Now commonly referred to as Pilates, professional golfers, football players, tennis players Olympians, dancers, gymnasts and fitness students all over the world use this method of exercise as their workout of choice.
For more detailed information about Pilates, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.