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Joseph H. Pilates

Joseph H Pilates was born and raised in Germany. As a young child growing up he suffered from rickets and other illnesses. As he became older he became determined to strengthen his weak and frail body and developed a real interest in health and fitness.

He began to study and experiment with different methods of exercise including yoga and boxing to help strengthen his body. He called his method the Art of Contrology because of the focus required in complete control of the muscles with the mind.

During the First World War he served as an orderly and became involved with the treatment of patients who were disabled and immobile. This was where the exercise/equipment system of Pilates was born.

Various pieces of apparatus including springs that were attached to beds were developed to help in exercise and rehabilitation. It was here that Joseph quickly became aware that patients recovered a lot faster when springs and resistance were used. These techniques led to the development of the machine, which is now known as the "Reformer."

After the War he moved to New York to open a fitness studio where his technique came to the attention of the rich and famous of that day. He continued to develop techniques and perfect his methods and wrote several books on fitness but never an official training program. Now in the 21st century the disciples originated by Pilates have many versions and interpretations of his methods, however they are the principles of their origin.


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