A brief history of Joe
From Germany, Joe grew up as a sickly child, but through hard work and determination, he became skilled in boxing, diving, skiing and gymnastics. In 1912, he moved to England to pursue a career in boxing and found employment there as a circus performer. By 1914 he had become a performer as a Roman Gladiator and went on tour with his brother, Frederick Pilates.
In 1914, after WWI broke out, he was interned along with other German nationals in a “camp” for enemy aliens in Lancaster. There he taught wrestling and self-defense, boasting that his students would emerge stronger than they were before the war. It was here that he began refining and teaching his series of mat exercises that he later called “Contrology.”
He was subsequently transferred to another camp on The Isle of Man where his interests in health led him to help out in the sick bay. Acting as a nursing aid he worked with many people suffering from illness and incarceration and began to help them in the infirmary with exercise. As most patients were confined to bed rest, Joe devised a system by rigging bed springs to the bed posts and the prototype for “Trap Table”, later known as “The Cadillac”, was born.
When the 1918 flu epidemic swept the world and killed millions, Joe was boastful that none of his patients succumbed. Following the war, Joseph moved to New York City where he and his wife Clara opened up a studio. They began by training men only, but soon were persuaded to also work with women, specifically members of the New York City Ballet. Over the decades, until his death in 1967, his method survived and it has improved over time, but still maintains the original ideals and principals created by Joseph.
Recently, there has been an increase in the popularity of Pilates due to media exposure from celebrities, performers, and professional athletes. The term “Pilates” has spread to the mainstream as it is proven to reshape and tone the body without causing stress and imbalance. The movement is rhythmic, fluid and focused to build greater strength, flexibility and endurance
“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” Joseph Pilates