Who was Joe?

The story of Joseph Pilates is the stuff of legends.  He was born in 1883 in Germany, into an impoverished family with many children.  He was a sickly child, who was bullied and teased for having the same last name as Pontius Pilate.   His father was a prize winning gymnast and his mother was a naturopath.  As a child, he received an anatomy book from a family physician and learned every page.  He would also lie in the woods for hours, observing how animals moved and especially how the mothers taught their offspring.  The careful observation of animal movement, particularly that of cats, greatly impacted him.  In addition to anatomy and animals in nature, Joseph Pilates studied a variety of exercise forms, including yoga, Zen, and ancient Greek and Roman regimens.  By 14 years of age, his body was so well developed that he began modeling for anatomy charts.

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What Pilates will do for you, according to Joe

In his 1945 book Return to Life Through Contrology, Joe claimed his method:

  • Develops not only the muscles of the body, suppleness of the limbs, and functioning of vital organs and endocrine glands; it also clarifies the mind and develops the will.

  • Develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.  

  • Helps you acquire a natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities, like that observed in pets and wild animals.  

  • Gives you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, the way you play, and in the way you work.  

  • Develops minor muscles to naturally help develop large muscles.

  • Gives you complete control of your body.

  • Give you limber and stretched muscles and ligaments so that your body will be as supple as that of a cat.