Pilates Method

History of Pilates

Joseph Pilates’ path became clear early in life. Throughout his childhood, he struggled with many debilitating illnesses. He persevered, pursuing sports such as gymnastics and wrestling to boost his strength. He believed in a close connection between mental and physical health. Over time, and after studying Western and Eastern approaches to fitness, he designed his own system of intelligent movement.


Following his internship in a prisoner of war camp during the World War I, where he helped the injured get strong, he left for America. He and his wife Clara opened their original studio in New York City, both teaching there until Joseph’s death. His strong influence on the New York dance community is still apparent today. Original students of Joseph and Clara’s (known as the elders) still teach throughout the world today, most of them well into their eighties!

Joseph originally developed his method as mat exercises (Return to Life, 1945) but also developed several pieces of apparatus to help people “get the method in their bodies.”


Each piece of equipment uses spring resistance training to take the mat repertoire in a slightly different direction. The progressive resistance of the springs trains the muscles to work throughout their lengthening process, resulting in long, strong muscles. The most widely used pieces of equipment are the Reformer, Wunda chair, High Ladder Barrel, Small Barrel and the Cadillac.


“Physical fitness is the first requisite to happiness” - Joseph Pilates


What are the benefits of Pilates?


Pilates uses precise movement sequences to develop stability and mobility throughout the body. The simultaneous physical and mental challenges help to improve the following:

  • Strength—gradual weight loading allows for strength building without compromising joint function
  • Flexibility—lengthening muscle to improve range of motion
  • Alignment—structural imbalances are corrected with proper muscle function and joint alignment
  • Mobility—joint compression is reduced, alleviating stress on joint structures, providing ease of movement
  • Awareness—balance, control and coordination improve while you build body/mind integration

The key to getting the maximum benefit from Pilates exercise lies in the proper execution of the exercises, under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher. Consistent Pilates practice develops healthy movement habits for life, improving the quality of life through a dynamic relationship with the body, mind and spirit.