Who is Joseph Pilates?

Joseph Pilates is the man who discovered the unique set of movement and stretches which we call Pilates. After discovering and establishing the unique set of physical activities, Joseph Pilates went ahead to develop his ideas into an outstanding program that we have today as Pilates. Continue reading to know more about this amazing human.

Discovery and developing Pilates

Joseph Pilates was born a German in 1883; he spent a major part of his adult years as a gymnast, bodybuilder and trainer. Joseph also mastered martial arts such as Jiu-Jitsu, and he was a trained boxer and wrestler.

Over the years, Joseph formed and developed a series of physical stretches and movements which he did by applying his knowledge of gymnastics, yoga, martial arts, and bodybuilding. He sought to develop a physical exercise that targeted the entire human body with the aim of achieving strength training, physical fitness, balance, and flexibility.

At this time, Joseph named his developing physical fitness regimen Contrology. Joseph Pilates took advantage of the internment by the British soldiers during World War I to develop his set of physical activities and train other inmates at the camps he was kept.

Joseph Pilates noted that his ideas were working; many of the inmates he taught at the camps were able to stay physically fit and strong to survive the harsh weather and poor living conditions. After the war, Joseph Pilates returned to Germany, where he sought ways to develop his ideas and make it public. He was contracted by the Police unit in German cities to engage officers in physical training; they realized the benefits of his ideas for strength training and physical fitness. In 1921, Joseph Pilates immigrated to
the U.S.

In New York, Joseph Pilates set up a studio, with his wife Clara, to teach dancers and ballerinas his unique set of physical movements aimed at helping his students become stronger, develop endurance, and perform better. One student stood out from the rest; her name is Kryzanowska. After a successful career as a Ballerina, Kryzanowska was forced into early retirement due to an injury.

Honoring the Great Man

Kryzanowska became the lead teacher at Joseph Pilates studio after her retirement. She inherited the studio when Joseph died, and established the physical fitness programs taught in the studio as Pilates in Joseph’s memory.

His Passion for physical fitness and wellbeing

As a young child, Joseph was frequently in bed with different illnesses such as asthma and fever. He became dedicated to training his body to become strong and physically fit. Joseph achieved this goal; he became stronger and healthier than many people around him and started teaching them to attain good health and wellbeing using Pilates.

Pilates Principles

On his path to discovering and establishing Pilates, Joseph focused on some particular principles as a holistic guide to achieving his dreams. He carefully selected principles that aided discipline and long term benefits.

The principles Joseph applied while developing Pilates are as follows, Concentration, Control, Precision, Centering, Flow, and Breath.

Till this moment, these are the principles that all Pilates sessions apply
while the students learn.

Facts about Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates was an interesting man who taught Pilates (or Contrology, as he called it) to help his students improve their balance, flexibility and overall health while putting importance also on rehab and recovery.

Here are a few fun facts about Joseph Pilates:

  • He was born in Düsseldorf, Germany in 1883.
  • He opened the first “Body Conditioning Gym” in New York City in the 1920’s
  • He published a book called “Your Health” in 1932 and another one called “Return To Life Through Contrology” in 1945
  • Many celebrities of the time visited his Contrology studio in New York City, including a dance legend Martha Graham
  • Originally, 60% of his clientele were men

Post Your Thoughts