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Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, Joseph Pilates was a frail child, suffering from rickets and asthma. This inspired Pilates to study anatomy and to become strong and fit. During his lifetime he became quite accomplished in athletics. He trained for boxing, gymnastics, skiing, diving and even the circus.
Living in England in 1914, during WWI, Pilates was interned in a “camp” where he shared his experience of body conditioning with other internees. Pilates was transferred to another camp where he assisted a “camp” hospital, as an orderly. He designed devices to assist and exercise immobilized patients. In 1918, a deadly influenza epidemic was at large, but those practicing Joe's method of conditioning maintained their health.
This laid the foundation for his style of body conditioning and specialized apparatus. Pilates called his method “Contrology,” the art of muscle control.
In 1926, the new German Army pressured Pilates to train the soldiers. Traveling to America seemed like a much better alternative. So in New York City Pilates open the first “Contrology” studio.
At this studio he trained and rehabilitated dancers. The word spread of the success of his method, attracting many to this profound style of body conditioning. Pilates spent the remainder of his life in New York City, often visiting his home at Jacob's Pillow in Massachusetts.
Decades later Pilates is practiced worldwide. People from all walks of life benefit from this tried and true method. Joseph Pilates was truly a visionary, ahead of his time.