About Joseph Pilates
Pilates was a sickly child and suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever, and he dedicated his entire life to improving his physical strength. Besides skiing frequently, he began studying body-building, yoga, zen, and gymnastics. By the age of 14, he was fit enough to pose for anatomical charts. Pilates came to believe that the "modern" life-style, bad posture, and inefficient breathing lay at the roots of poor health. He ultimately devised a series of exercises and training-techniques and engineered all the equipment, specifications, and tuning required to teach his methods properly.
Pilates was originally a gymnast, diver, and bodybuilder, but when he moved to England in 1912, he earned a living as a professional boxer, circus-performer, and self-defense trainer at police schools and Scotland Yard.
About 1925 Pilates migrated to the United States of America. On the ship to America he met his future wife Clara. The couple founded a studio in New York City and directly taught and supervised their students well into the 1960s. His method, which he and Clara originally called "Contrology", related to encouraging the use of the mind to control muscles. It focuses attention on core postural muscles that help keep the human body balanced and provide support for the spine. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of breath and of alignment of the spine, and strengthen the deep torso and abdominal muscles.
Joseph and Clara Pilates soon established a devout following in the local dance and the performing-arts community of New York.
Joseph Pilates wrote several books, including Return to Life through Contrology and Your Health and was a prolific inventor with over 26 patents cited. Joe and Clara had a number of disciples who continued to teach variations of his method or in some cases focused exclusively on preserving the method and the instructor-training techniques they learned during their studies with Joe and Clara. Pilates died in 1967 at the age of 87 in New York.