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Who is Joseph Pilates ?

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

Joseph Pilates was born in 1883 in Germany. He lived in England for a short time and worked as a boxer, circus performer and self defence instructor. He was also involved in the rehabilitation of injured during the first world war and adapted beds using straps, pulleys and strings to aid recovery of muscles, strength and control. After the war he moved back to Germany and then to America. He developed and adapted his apparatus ; the universal reformer. He set up a studio in America with his partner Clara training a wide variety of people including gymnasts, performers and actors. He became very famous among the dancing community. Pilates teachers still use his principles to teach on mat, reformer or other pieces of equipment that he invented to aid fitness and well being.

Joseph Pilates was a very disciplined man and wrote the book 'Return to life through Contrology '(1) Joseph was also a keen health and wellness enthusiast. He believed in sharing his ideas of a better way of life. The method has become famous over the years and has been influenced by 'The Pilates Elders.' These are some of his participants in his classes who have gone on to be teachers of Pilates themselves. They include Anna Clara Zeuner ( Joseph Pilates partner) 91883-1977) and Romana Kryzanowska ( 1923-2013) as well as many others.

'Controlology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit' (2)

He advocates the principles of Control, Breath, Flow, Concentration, Precision and Centring. These principles will be applied within the classes I teach. Joseph also talks about the fundamentals of alignment, stabilization, mobilisation as well as strength and flexibility. These guiding principles are also the basis for my classes.

Mat and Seated/standing classes will be taught using the above principles and fundamentals whilst using small equipment when appropriate.


(1)Pilates.J. ( 1945)'Return to life through Contrology'

(2) cited by Jpilates Training and Education ( 2020 )( pg. 2 ) 'The Foundations of Pilates' unpublished

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