History of Pilates

The philosophy of Contrology was devised by German born Joseph Pilates as the basis for an exercise and conditioning program developed throughout the course of the twentieth century.

Born in 1880, Joseph Pilates suffered from various forms of illness as a child and embraced a variety of Eastern and Western exercise modalities to maintain his health and fitness. As an adult Pilates moved to England where at the outbreak of World War I he was interned as an enemy alien. During his internment, Pilates developed and refined ideas for the unique conditioning program of Contrology. This program worked with the principle that the mind can control the muscles and consisted of floor based exercises, now known as traditional Pilates mat work.

Pilates’ continuing interest in health and rehabilitation led to his discovery that resistance during exercise enabled the injured to recover muscle tone and strength more efficiently. The design of spring loaded equipment, such as the Cadillac and Reformer, enabled the realisation of this discovery, developing his original ideas beyond floor based exercises.

From the late 1920s to his death in 1967, Pilates ran his own exercise studio in New York where his method of exercise was practiced predominantly by dancers and athletes. His philosophy, now known simply as Pilates, has developed into a versatile form of exercise that can be adapted to suit any level of fitness.

The six original Pilates principles remain in place and form the basis of all Pilates teachings: