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Who created Pilates?

The method was devised by Joseph Hubertus Pilates (1883-1967), a German native who was sickly as a child and suffered from asthma. Keen to improve his own health and physique, Joe set about creating his unique method of exercise after studying the way that animals and children moved.

Joseph Pilates picture classical pilates hampshire

Whilst imprisoned as an 'enemy alien' in an internment camp on the Isle of Man during World War One, Joe used his exercise system to aid the rehabilitation of other internees in the camp hospital to keep them mobile. After the war, Joe moved to America where he provided instruction of his method (which he called 'Contrology') out of his New York studio with his 'wife' (there is no evidence they ever actually married!), Clara. Joe initially taught his method to boxers, wrestlers and strongmen, but once the dance community became aware of his genius, many of his later students were dancers.

Joe led an active life and even when he died at the age of 83, had maintained an impressive physique. It was his dream that his method be accessible to the masses and be recognised by the medical community - something that did not become a reality until many years after his death.

After Joe's death, the Pilates method continued to thrive throughout the dance community and was eventually brought to the UK by Alan Herdman in the 1970s. In recent years, Pilates has finally been recognised by the medical community as being an excellent way to improve core strength, alleviate back pain and keep in shape without putting undue stress on the body.