The History of Pilates

Joseph Pilates Teaser

“It is the mind itself which builds the body” 

You’ve perfected your plank, you’ve got your hundreds down pat and your teaser is tops but do you know where all these amazing moves originated from? It’s time for a little history of Pilates lesson. Lets take you back to the beginning of how the global fitness phenomenon of Pilates came to be… 

The physical fitness system we now lovingly call Pilates, was first developed early in the 20th century by German man, Joseph Pilates. Initially known as ‘Contrology’, Pilates was developed as a series of rehabilitative exercises that were designed to create total balance of the body and mind. 

Not much is known about Joseph Pilates’ early life. Sources say he had been quite unwell as a child, suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever, and was quite determined to overcome these ailments with physical activity. 

However the real inspiration for the Pilates method came to Joseph during World War One. He served as an orderly at an internment camp working with patients who were unable to walk. Joseph attached bed springs to the hospital beds to help support the patients’ limbs, which led to the development of the famous ‘Cadillac’. 

Joseph Pilates Original Cadillac

In the early 1920’s, Joseph moved to New York with his wife Clara. Here they further developed and taught the Pilates method in their body conditioning gym. The method was accompanied with a variety of equipment, for which he used the term ‘apparatus’, and was designed to help accelerate the process of stretching, strengthening, body alignment and increased core strength. 

“In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 sessions you will see the difference, in 30 sessions you will have an entirely new body!”

The most well known (and most popular today) is the Reformer, which was initially called the Universal Reformer – named for “universally reforming the body”. 

Today, Pilates is practiced by millions all over the world and, call us biased, but is the perfect form of movement for people of all ages and fitness levels. Pilates has transformed bodies and enabled those bound by injury to move freely again. 

The method, you could say, has been a real shape shifter… 

Ready to get started & experience the benefits of Pilates for yourself? Sign up for one of our Intro offers to start your Pilates journey today!

Categories: Pilates