You see in the papers, magazines and on social media, how pilates has changed the lives of many celebrities. Pilates has become very popular over the years and you may know many people, of all ages and abilities who attend a pilates class.

Have you ever wondered where it all began? How it started and who created Pilates? Well its all thanks to Joseph Pilates, he is the creator of the principles of pilates and the inventor of the Pilates reformer.

Joseph Pilates was born in 1883 in Germany. He was quite a sickly child, suffering from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. He was determined to make himself healthy. He studied, took part and recorded all types of exercise, from Roman and Greek exercises, from bodybuilding and gymnastics to Eastern principles of Yoga, Meditation, martial arts and Tai Chi. Through his new exercise regime, he improved his health and fitness to the point that he had become a professional boxer, an expert skier and diver.

At the age of 32 Joseph came over to England, where he taught self-defence to Police officers at Scotland yard, whilst in England, he also found work as a circus performer.

As WW1 broke out, Joseph was held as a prisoner of war where he worked in a hospital on the Isle of Man.

During his time here he worked on the principles of his own exercises. He made the other prisoners and patients join in with his daily exercises. He started to look at people’s alignment or misalignment. He found that he had to re-educate the body, so injuries didn’t reoccur. He started to use the beds to help realign people, putting springs on to the bedposts to add resistance. This was the start of the Pilates reformer.

After the war had finished, Joseph decided to go to America. On the boat over, he met Clara. She was to be his future wife.

During his time in America, he opened his first studio. This studio was shared with the New York City Ballet, this is when he started to teach his method and named it “Contrology”.

He focused on slow controlled flowing movements that focused on core strength, which would strengthen and stabilise the spine. His main principles of exercise where:

  • Concentration
  • Centering
  • Control
  • Precision
  • Breathing
  • Flow

After Joseph Pilates’ death in 1967, the name of Contrology was changed to Pilates. Alan Herdman brought Pilates over to the UK in the 1970s.

If you want to know more about Pilates and how it could benefit you contact us using the easy to complete contact form here, email us on, call us on 07816 913107 or even just call in and see us