Joseph H. Pilates
born December 9, 1883 in Mönchengladbach, Germany
His father, Heinrich Friedrich Pilates, was a metal worker and enthusiastic gymnast, and his mother was a housewife.
Pilates was a sickly child and suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever, and he dedicated his entire life to improving his physical strength. He was introduced by his father to gymnastics and body-building, and to martial arts like jiu jitsu and boxing. By the age of 14, he was fit enough to pose for anatomical charts. Pilates came to believe that the “modern” life-style, bad posture, and inefficient breathing lay at the roots of poor health. He ultimately devised a series of exercises and training-techniques and engineered all the equipment, specifications, and tuning required to teach his methods properly.
Joe and Clara had a number of disciples who continued to teach variations of his method or, in some cases, focused exclusively on preserving the method and the instructor-training techniques they had learned during their studies with Joe and Clara.
Joseph Pilates died in 1967 at the age of 83 in New York.