Joseph Pilates (pronounced pie-LAH-tes),
the founder of the Pilates method (also simply referred to as "themethod") was born in Germany in 1880. As a frail child with rickets, asthma, and rheumatic fever, he was determined to become stronger. He dedicated himself to building both his body and his mind through practices which included yoga, zen, and ancient Roman and Greek exercises. His conditioning regime worked and he became an accomplished gymnast, skier, boxer, and diver.
While interned in England during World War I for being a German citizen, Pilates became a nurse. During this time, he designed a unique system of hooking
springs and straps to a hospital bed in order to help his disabled and immobilized patients regain strength and movement. It was through these experimentsthat he recognized the importance of training the core abdominal and back muscles to stabilize the torso and allow the entire body to move freely. This
experimentation provided the foundation for his style of conditioning and the specialized exercise equipment associated with the Pilates method.
Pilates emigrated to the United States in 1926 after the German government invited him to use his conditioning methods to train the army. That same year he opened the first Pilates studio in New York City. Over the years, dancers, actors, and athletes flocked to his studio to heal, condition, and align their bodies
There are over 500 exercises that were developed by Joseph Pilates. "Classical" exercises, according to the Pilates Studio in New York involve several principle including concentration, centering, flowing movement, control and breath.
There are two primary exercise machines used for Pilates, the Universal Reformer and the Cadillac, and several smaller pieces of equipment.