The Pilates method was named after its founder Joseph Hubertus Pilates who was born near Düsseldorf, Germany. As a child, he suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to strengthening his physique. He developed a special breathing technique to address his asthma, studied the muscles of the human body, and, with the help of his father, began practicing gymnastics, yoga, and bodybuilding.
In his youth, he explored various sports and became proficient in bodybuilding, diving, skiing, and gymnastics. In 1912, he moved to England, where he initially earned a living as a boxer, circus acrobat, and self-defense instructor for English detectives.
At the outbreak of World War I, Joseph Pilates was interned in Lancaster and later on the Isle of Man. During his time in the internment camp, he had the opportunity to further develop his method, with the help of his fellow internees whom he taught. The method successfully strengthened his comrades to such an extent that they were saved from the devastating Spanish flu in 1918 on the Isle of Man.
Pilates did not neglect bedridden patients either; he devised tools and exercises using various household items, bed springs, ropes, barrels, allowing bedridden patients to participate. As a result, the conditions of both prisoners and seriously ill patients consistently improved.
Doctors, nurses, and those who witnessed the process began spreading the word about the new exercise regimen, which Joseph Pilates called ”Contrology”.
After the war, Joseph Pilates continued his fitness activities in Hamburg, where he worked with the local police. Disillusioned with the German army in 1926, he moved to the USA. During the long sea journey, he met his future wife, Clara. With her assistance, he opened his studio in the New York City Ballet building. He taught 'Contrology' to dancers, dance instructors, and athletes, achieving increasing success. Through their method, injuries also healed more rapidly.
Famous dancers and dance instructors turned to him for guidance, and with his method, they found grace, fitness, and flexibility. The most talented students eventually became instructors themselves, spreading the method all around the world.