Joseph Pilates developed his method from over 20 years of self-study and apprenticeship in Yoga, Zen, and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens. He was a trained boxer and performer, taught self-defense to Scotland Yard detectives and rehabilitated injured WWI soldiers. He believed that mental and physical health are inter-related and recommended a few precise movements emphasizing control and form to aid injured soldiers in regaining their health by strengthening, stretching, and stabilizing key muscles.
While Joe was the outspoken force behind his method, his wife Clara, a trained nurse, quietly incorporated his concepts and exercises in ways that benefited more seriously ill or injured clients. Her approachable style and special techniques spawned a dedicated lineage of teachers whose work flows through and uniquely colors the landscape of the Pilates method today. It is perhaps because of Clara that Pilates is clearly recognized as a positive form of movement-based exercise that truly can be tailored to any level of fitness and overall health.
Joe created “The Pilates Principles” to condition the entire body: proper alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flowing movement. He wrote several books about his method, aimed at keeping people healthy, strong, flexible, and enhancing their overall body awareness. In addition, Joe was an inventor and designed most of the apparatus used in contemporary Pilates practice today.