Joseph Pilates was born in 1883 in Germany.
His father was a gymnast and his mother a naturopath.
As a child Joseph suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever, but he was determined to overcome these physical disadvantages and dedicated his life to improving his health and strength.
He focused on breathing techniques to help with his asthma and exercised outside to cure his Rickets. By the age of 14 he was fit enough to pose for anatomic charts. He loved skiing and he studied bodybuilding, yoga, martial arts, and gymnastics.
In 1912 Joseph moved to England and earned a living as a professional boxer, circus performer, and self-defence trainer.
During WW1 he was at a British enemy citizen camp. The health conditions in the camps were poor but Pilates insisted that everyone participated in daily exercise to help their physical and mental well-being. During the flu epidemic of 1918 not a single soldier under his care died.
After the war, Joseph returned to Germany. He collaborated with experts in dance and physical exercise, trained police officers and was also pressured to train members of the German Army.
The Pilates method encourages the mind to control muscles, and it focuses attention on core postural muscles that help keep the body balanced and provide support for the spine. Pilates’s exercises teach awareness of breath and alignment of the spine and strengthen the deep torso and abdominal muscles.