Joseph H. Pilates was born in 1880 in Germany. As a child
he suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. As a result, he spent his entire adult life dedicated to improving his physical strength.
Upon moving to England in 1912 he earned his living numerous ways, finding work as a professional boxer, circus performer, and self defense trainer at police schools and Scotland Yard. During WWI, Joseph was interred along with other German nationals on the Isle of Man.
It was during this time, he began to extensively develop his concept of an integrated, comprehensive system of physical exercises, which he called “Contrology”. He studied the movements of animals and trained his fellow inmates in
fitness and exercise.
Joseph Pilates emigrated to the United States in 1925.
It was on the ship to America that he met his future wife
Clara. The couple founded a studio in New York City where they taught and supervised their students well in the 1960s. Both Joseph and Clara continued to develop, revise, and augment their exercises, tailoring each students program to their specific needs.
Today, though only a few of those original students are still around, the method of “Contrology”, commonly known today as just “Pilates”, is still taught all over the world.