Fun Facts About Joseph Pilates

Pilates Instructor shows student how to use Pilates chair

#1 – Before Becoming a Pilates Instructor, Joseph Pilates Originally Earned a Living as a Professional Boxer

Joseph was always interested in creating healthy balanced bodies after being born as a sickly child. Before he became the famous inventor and original Pilates instructor, he made a living staying active and fit. In fact, his first foray into a career in fitness was boxing which he learned from his father. After moving to Germany in 1919, he even opened his own boxing gym in Gelsenkirchen. Joe even got in the ring himself, though never reaching the highest levels of the professional sport.

#2 – Joseph Pilates Invented His Exercise Method in a World War I Internment Camp.

As a German citizen of Britain, Joseph was interned as a threat to the state at the beginning of the first World War. Rather than waste that time he ended up creating his namesake, the Pilates method. He even invented the Pilates reformer out of scrapped bunk beds and continued to tinker to create various resistance machines.

#3 – He Originally Named His Method Contrology.

Despite being known the world over as Pilates, he originally branded his method as Contrology. He became enamored with the classical Greek ideas of Mind, Body, and Soul and designed his exercise method around combining all three facets into his workout. His method focused around using the mind to control the body, which led to a more healthy spirit.

#4 – Originally From Germany and Britain He Moved to the US in 1926 Where He First Began as a Pilates Instructor

It was not until Joseph came to the US that he began as a Pilates instructor. He met his future wife, Clara Zeuner, and they opened a Pilates studio together in New York. It was in New York that the popularity of Pilates’ method really took off. He shared his studio with a ballet group who found his workout perfect for dancers, both in rehabilitating injuries and becoming healthy enough to avoid future injuries. It was actually Clara who first implemented Pilates as a method for healing injuries. Much of the credit for Pilates reputation as a method for achieving body balance and health can be attributed to her involvement.

#5 – He Taught the First Pilates Instructors Who Went on to Found Their Own Schools

The eventual rise in popularity of Pilates can be attributed to the passing on of the method from teacher to student. Joseph and Clara spawned many other Pilates enthusiasts who would go on to open their own studios and further spread the benefits of the Pilates method. One of those teachers, Ron Fletcher, worked with Joseph to rehabilitate Ron’s chronic knee injuries. It was through Ron Fletcher and his opening of a studio in Los Angeles that helped to spread that popularity of the exercise to the West Coast. It was under Ron Fletcher that our own Risa Sheppard learned Pilates, before becoming a Pilates instructor herself and creating Sheppard Method Pilates.

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