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Born in Germany in 1880, Joseph H. Pilates had a lifelong interest in body conditioning. As a frail child dedicated to becoming stronger, he later grew to become an accomplished skier, diver, gymnast, and boxer.
While interned in England during World War I for his German citizenship, Joseph became a nurse. During this time, he designed exercise apparatus for immobilized patients by attaching springs to hospital beds. This system formed the foundation for his style of body conditioning and specialized exercise apparatus, which he brought to New York City when he opened the first Pilates Studio™ in 1926.
Joe continued to train clients at his studio until his death in 1967, at the age of 87. In the 1970s, Hollywood celebrities discovered Pilates via Ron Fletcher’s studio in Beverly Hills.
Where the stars go, the media follows. In the late 1980s, the media began to cover Pilates extensively. The public took note, and the Pilates business boomed. “I’m fifty years ahead of my time,” Joe once claimed. He was right. No longer the workout for the elite, Pilates has entered the fitness mainstream. Today, over 10 million Americans practice Pilates, and the numbers continue to grow.
Courtesy of I.C. Rapoport