Pilates Method Is Over 80 Years Old

Joseph PilatesJoseph Pilates was born in Dusseldorf Germany in 1880.  To combat a number of childhood illnesses, he became a devoted body builder and early believer in the healing power of exercise. As a young man, Pilates was a gymnast, diver, boxer and circus performer.

He began developing his now famous Pilates fitness method while working at a hospital during World War I.   He encouraged patients to exercise with resistance provided by springs attached to their beds. It is said that none of his patients died during the 1918 flu pandemic due to their strong bodies.  Eventually he refined his exercise method called “Contrology” and designed the spring-loaded equipment still in use today.

Original Pilates StudioIn 1926, Joseph Pilates emigrated to the U.S. and opened a studio in New York where his unique approach and equipment gained immediate popularity among professional dancers.  Martha Graham and George Balanchine became devotees.  He died in 1964 at the age of 84.

In the 1970’s and 80’s this unique method was carried on by Joseph Pilates’ former students who handed it down to others in the fitness field.  Introduced to Pilates in 1984, Joan Habschmidt, Westside Workout’s owner, was among the early Pilates fitness professionals. In the 1990’s, this small but growing group organized its first Pilates institute and formal teacher training program.  In no time, Pilates was discovered by the general public. Today it is world renowned and timelier than ever.