Contrology is not a system of haphazard exercises”

Joseph Pilates – Founder of the Pilates Method

About Joseph Hubertus Pilates

Joseph Pilates believed our modern life style caused bad posture and inefficient breathing and was the root of poor health. And this was in the 1920’s before computers, play stations and mobile phones.
His answer to this was to design a unique series of life enhancing physical exercises to help correct muscle imbalances and improve posture, co-ordination, balance, strength, flexibility and increase breathing capacity and organ function.
Born in 1880 in Germany his father was a renowned gymnast and his mother a naturopath. Joe was a sickly child and had various ailments including asthma and rickets. He was interested in sport and took up gymnastics and loved being outside. Joe watched animals in the woods move and was given an old anatomy book by a friend and he studied it, took up yoga and zen. By the time he was 14 Joe was modelling for anatomy charts! He went on to be proficient in boxing, diving and martial arts.
Early 1900’s he moved to England and joined a circus with his brother. He was interned in Lancaster and Isle of Man during the First World War. Joe taught wrestling and exercises to internees and began to devise a system of exercise he would eventually called CONTROLOGY.
Back in Germany in 1920’s he trained the Hamburg police in self defence and in 1926 Joe left for America and met Clara his wife on the ship, she had similar ideas to him and they opened a studio in the same building as New York Ballet. Contrology became an intrinsic part of life to many dancers. They were sent to Jo to be fixed.
The legacy he left us is a sequence of 34 exercises commonly called the Full Mat.
Pilates reckoned he was 50 yrs ahead of his time. He was a health guru but enjoyed cigars whiskey and parties.
He died 1967 age 87 from emphysema. Clara continued to teach till her death in 1977.