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 continued his exercise regimes in the dance industry and his reputation grew quickly. He then moved to America and met his wife Clara on the trip, leading to the development of ‘The Pilates Studio’ in New York which they ran together. The Pilates Studio was a success in the dance world and again he built an excellent reputation.

Pilates continued to evolve when Joseph and his wife passed away. The rigorous exercise regimes were slowly adapted by friends, students and dancers over time to more controlled and individual variations.

Today Pilates is carried out all over the world and adaptations continue to focus around precise core stability exercises to aid rehabilitation and enhance sporting performance. Pilates is popular in physiotherapy to be used alongside other treatment modalities for a fast recovery following injury.

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clients doing Pilate stretches on mats.