The History of Pilates

Pilates began in the 20th century by a man called Joseph Pilates. Joseph suffered with a number of childhood illnesses which led him to study Zen, yoga and ancient Greek exercise regimes in an attempt to gain immunity. When WW1 broke out Joseph trained as an orderly in a hospital. He taught patients exercise regimes and added resistance using old bed springs. It soon became clear that those who followed Joseph’s exercise regimes were recovering from illnesses faster than those who were not.

A portait of Joseph Pilates Joseph Pilates demostrating Pilates exercise.

After the war, Joseph’s reputation grew quickly as he continued teaching his exercise regimes within the dance industry. He then decided to move to America and met his wife Clara on his journey. Together they developed 'The Pilates Studio' in New York. The Pilates Studio was a success within the dance community and again, his reputation grew.

Following the death of both Joseph and his wife Clara, Pilates continued to grow and change. Over time, the rigorous exercise regimes were slowly adapted by friends, students and dances, to become a more controlled and varied form of exercise.

Today, Pilates is carried out all over the world, with adaptations focused around precise core stability exercises which aid rehabilitation as well as enhance sporting performance and general well-being. Pilates has become popular in physiotherapy as an adjunct to other treatment modalities to aid in fast recovery following injury.

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