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"If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young."                                                                                    Joseph Pilates

Brief History of Joseph H. Pilates


Joseph H. Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1883. He was a sick child suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Determined to overcome obstacles, yet unable to be physical at a young age, he studied Eastern and Western philosophies on exercise and was dedicated to becoming stronger.  He later grew to become an accomplished skier, diver, gymnast, boxer, and martial artist. 


While interned in England during World War I for his German citizenship, Joseph became a nurse. During this time, he designed exercise apparatus for immobilized patients by attaching springs to hospital beds. This system formed the foundation for his style of body conditioning and specialized exercise apparatus.


In 1925, Joe was invited to train the New German Army, but because he was not













Upon arriving in New York City in 1926, Joe and Clara opened a gym at 939 Eighth Ave, which happened to be in the same building as several dance studios and rehearsal spaces.  It was this proximity that made “Contrology” so prominent among dancers, including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Martha Graham.  Joe continued to teach until his death in 1967 at the age of 87, at which point Clara took over the studio and continued to teach until her death 10 years later.  Today, the Pilates method is practiced worldwide from people of all ages and abilities.

happy with the political direction of Germany, he decided to leave and go to the U.S.  It was en route to America that Joe met Clara, who would become his 2nd wife.  She was suffering arthritic pain, and Joe worked with her on the boat to heal her. 

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