Joseph Pilates grew up near Dusseldorf in the 1880's. A frail and sickly child he suffered with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. This left him with poor bone structure and twisted limbs. He developed an interest in physical fitness to improve his body image and correct his body misalignments and improve strength. He drew his ideas from a variety of disciplines including boxing, gymnastics, body building and diving. He created his own matwork exercises named "The Art of Contrology."
Joseph set up his fitness studio in New York in the 1920's. It attracted the elite of New York with leading ballet dancers and screen legends.He also lived in an internment camp during WW1 where he developed much of the equipment now used in Pilates.
Joseph Pilates wrote several books on fitness but never set up an official training programme. The result was that his students went on to teach their own individual versions of his method.
Pilates technique in the 21st Century is rooted in Joseph Pilates' original teachings. Scientific understanding of human anatomy and the input of medical professionals has further developed the technique. Pilates uses the mind body connection to encourage people to take time to listen to the body, realign and strengthen.