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History of Pilates

Joseph Pilates

Joseph H Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880. As a child he was not strong and he suffered from rickets and asthma amongst other ailments. His poor health inspired him to adopt a physical conditioning routine to improve his overall fitness and his personal body image.

Pilates move to England before the outbreak of the First World War however when hostilities began he was interned because of his nationality. While he endured internment Joseph Pilates used the time to develop a successful fitness programme for his fellow internees.

Many of these were war veterans, including amputees. Pilates used his fitness methods to improve their general health and their fitness levels.

Joseph Pilates in the USA

Following his release from internment Pilates returned to his native Germany after the end of the war. Shortly after this he moved to the USA where he opened his first fitness studio in New York in 1923. His wife, Clara, was his partner in this enterprise. The popularity of the Pilates Method in combination with Joseph Pilates' ebullient personality ensured the success of the studio. Dancers and entertainers used the venue extensively and they appreciated that Pilates customised programmes to each individuals needs.

Since those early days many famous Hollywood celebrities and well-known dancers have benefited from the Pilates methods. Luminaries such as Gregory Peck, George Balanchine, Joan Collins, Katherine Hepburn, Terence Stamp, and Kirsten Scott-Thomas have all used Pilates.

Development of Pilates or Body Contrology

The Pilates Method developed organically up to the death of Joseph Pilates, in 1967, and afterwards.

Pilates wrote two books, Your Health and Return to Life, that helped to introduce his revolutionary approach to exercise and fitness to the the world. In these books the exercises that are illustrated and described are beyond the reach and ability of all but the most highly trained athletes and dancers. However they show what can be achieved through Pilates, or as Joseph Pilates often termed it - Body Contrology. New adherents would be taught preliminary exercises with variations depending upon each individuals' needs.

Pilates never laid down a specific training routine and those of his clients and staff that went on to teach the Pilates Method used differing emphasis depending upon their own personal experiences with Joseph Pilates. Today almost no two pilates teachers give instruction in the same way as they draw from their own personal experience to add to the key principles of the Pilates Method.

Joseph Pilates defined Contrology as the “comprehensive integration of body, mind and spirit

Irish Pilates Practitioners

Pilates Dublin 5 in Studio 72 with Lynsey Phone: 085 744 8670

Dublin Pilates Classes with Tony Lawless Phone: 087-223 0052


Pilates - Pilates History - Pilates Eight Principles - Alignment in Pilates - Breathing and Pilates
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