The Pilates Story

Joseph Pilates (1880-1967) was born to a Greek gymnast father and German mother who believed in naturopathy (a holistic approach to self-healing without artificial drugs). As a child, Pilates suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever, but he was determined to overcome his challenges. He educated himself in anatomy, and actively participated in yoga, gymnastics, martial arts and body building.

Following the principles of the classical Greek ideal, balance of mind, body, and spirit, Pilates created a series of physical exercises to establish core strength and improve muscular balance and coordination. His exercises require concentration with coordinated breathing, and encompass more than 500 controlled, precise movements designed to lengthen, strengthen and stretch muscles without adding bulk.

While working in England during World War I, the German-born Pilates was interned in a camp as an enemy alien. He encouraged his fellow campmates to maintain physical and mental health by practicing his exercise methods. For seriously injured, bed-ridden soldiers, Pilates created exercise equipment from bed springs and frames for resistance exercises, and his innovative spring-based exercise machines were born.

After the war ended, Pilates emigrated to the United States where he met and married his wife and teaching partner, Clara. Together they dedicated their lives to continual development of the Pilates exercise system and the creation of new equipment to support the regimen.

Today, Pilates is one of the most popular exercise methods in the world, practiced by men and women, from stay-at-home Moms and business professionals to seniors, athletes, dancers, and patients for physical rehabilitation.


In ten sessions, you will feel the difference,
in twenty sessions, you will see the difference, and
in thirty you will have a whole new body.
— Joseph Pilates