Joseph Pilates was born in 1880 in Germany. He was a sickly child, plagued by rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever but, through his determination to overcome his health problems, he developed an exercise method that assisted in him in achieving optimum health. Many of the exercise beliefs he researched dated back to the early Greeks and Romans and, through his programme he gained enough strength to become an accomplished body builder, skier, diver, athlete and gymnast. In his early 30’s, Joseph Pilates moved to England where he used his skills as a professional boxer to teach self-defence to members of the Police Force. During the 1st World War he was interned by the British authorities and, during his time there, he continued to develop his interest in health and fitness. While there, he trained other interns, many of whom needed serious rehabilitation. Through his work, Pilates observed that when there is a weak or misaligned area in the body, individuals tend to overcompensate or over develop another area. He concluded that it was therefore, critical not only to correct the misalignment but also to re-educate the body so the injuries would not re-occur. He also believed that true well-being could be achieved through physical fitness and positive mental attitude. Pilates became very popular with dancers, gymnasts and athletes who realised the benefits of this method of mental and physical conditioning – giving them strength, flexibility and the all important link between the mind and the body.
Joseph Pilates died in 1967 in the US – having lived the majority of his life with healthy mind, body and spirit.