A Brief History of Pilates

The history of the Pilates method has been passed from person to person through stories and the work itself. Joseph Pilates was passionately interested in the human body and keeping it healthy. Like most innovators, he was ahead of his time. Through experience and observation, Joe concluded that our modern lifestyle and lack of understanding how our bodies work meant we were not as healthy as we could be.

Joe studied the body through various disciplines of physical practice and analysis. He considered movement of animals and small children. Armed with his observations, a healthy sense of confidence and the opportunity to begin a new life in the United States, he developed a system of exercise for maintaining an optimal state of health.

Over time, he invented many pieces of equipment built to help his students meet this goal. He also devised a series of exercises to perform at home to maintain students' progress. Joe called his system Contrology, The Art of Control. He and his wife Clara ran the “Pilates’ Studio”— a place where many New Yorkers came to exercise and learn about their bodies.

Joseph Pilates died in 1967. Since then, Clara and others have continued to share his work and create new Pilates history. After Clara's passing, Romana Kryzanowska was left in charge of the original studio and Joe's legacy. She worked in that capacity further contributing to the established history of Pilates' groundbreaking work.  Having secured the Pilates legacy for future generations, Romana passed away in 2013.  The work is now in the capable hands of many passionate instructors all around the globe.