The History of Pilates

Pilates is an exercise method that was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920′s, he called it “Contrology”.  Joseph Pilates suffered from various serious illnesses during his childhood and doctors warned his parents that he would have a short life expectancy. He was determined from a young age not to succumb to the doctors prognosis and began to experiment with a wide range of health and fitness regimes in his attempt to rebuild his body strength. He studied yoga, martial arts, gymnastics, skiing, dance, weight training and even circus skills,

Then in the 1920’s he ended up in a German internment camp, it was here his Pilates techniques were birthed. He used easily available objects as athletic equipment to strengthen core muscles. He soon started training his fellow detainees with fitness exercises as a form of rehabilitation from injury and disease, using bed springs and beer keg rings, to create resistance exercise equipment for his patients.

In the mid 1920′s Joseph Pilates emigrated to America where he and his wife, Clara, set up a studio teaching Contrology to, among others, members of the New York City Ballet which was located nearby.

It was only after his death that Contrology came to be known as Pilates; and as his students spread across the world they took the method with them and developed it further.


Pilates that is now taught is a largely modified version of Contrology as modern day bodies are slightly different to Joseph’s. But the benefits and principles are the same. Pilates is based on anatomy and physiology, it looks at how the muscles work and has works with your body. By this I mean weak muscles will be strengthening and over tight muscles stretched out. Through doing the exercises you become more “body aware” which means you learn about your posture and your bodies imbalances, after a few classes you’ll find yourself standing taller, looking straighter and feeling calmer. Come and give it a go!