The founder of Pilates, Joseph Pilates ( 1880 – 1967) was born in Germany. Because of ill health in childhood, he became obsessed with physical activity, trying many different forms, to improve his own health and fitness. His method, originally called Contrology, is what we know as Pilates.
He went to the USA with his wife, Clara, and they set up a fitness studio in New York. His first clients were boxers, ballet dancers, actors and athletes. A somewhat unorthdox figure – a cigar smoking exercise instructor teaching in swimming trunks – his ideas and approach have inspired the huge industry that is Pilates today.