The Man

Pilates is a unique system of movement and exercise created and developed in the early 1900’s by German-born circus performer, Joseph Herbertus Pilates. As a frail child, he personally triumphed over a succession of physical ailments including asthma and rheumatic fever. He later grew to become an accomplished skier, gymnast and boxer.

The Exercises

Pilates was interned in England during World War 1 for his German citizenship and began rehabilitating injured soldiers creating and developing a unique exercise regime by attaching springs to hospital beds to provide the resistance needed to develop both muscular strength and flexibility to help support the joints and bones of those injured.

This system formed the foundation for his style of body conditioning which he brought to his New York studio in 1926. Joseph used his specially designed equipment to dramatically improve the strength, flexibility, coordination and posture of his clientele.

His work quickly gained popularity with dance legends such as Martha Graham, George Balachaine (co-founder of NYCB) and Alvin Aily.

Although the fitness industry and medical profession have only recently began to recognize the benefits of the Pilates discipline, many dancers have used the exercises and training as an integral part of their training for many years.


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Jackknife with Joseph Pilates, circa 1964

Jackknife on the Cadillac at Pilates Pointe Studios, 2011

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