It is rare for the writer to go into any great detail of well-known persons, but Joseph Pilates was such an extraordinary man and it is perhaps a fact that only biographers have learned so much about his endeavors to create an exercise routine which challenged all others during his early lifetime.

Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in 1883 in Germany; a sickly child suffering with rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever.
During his early school years he was taunted by bullies with derogatory remarks but was too sickly to defend himself physically and morally.

These early experiences may have led him to explore a journey leading to fitness and health. From an old well-worn anatomy book, he memorized every part of the human body and as a young boy he spent hours in the forest watching the movements of animals.

Later he developed into a brilliant extrovert who admired the Greek ideal of a man equal in body, mind and spirit.
His teaching emphasized physical fitness, an awareness of breath, alignment of spine and development of deep abdominal muscles.

Joseph was a firm believer that modern lifestyle, bad posture and poor breathing were the roots of ill health.
With his inventive mind he created bed springs over mattresses for patients with semi-paralysis to inspire movements to increase recovery.

In his lifetime he was a boxer, a circus performer, trained ballerinas to maintain strength, worked in the military and taught self defense at Scotland Yard.
Eventually he came to the decision that humanity as a whole could benefit and he opened his studio in New York.

Although a health fanatic, he had a liking for cigars and whiskey and was the life and soul of many parties!
Albeit that he was incredibly fit at the age of 83, the advancement of emphysema from years of smoking led to his demise.
His obituary in the New York Times read ` “A white maned lion with steel blue eyes and a mahogany skin as limber in his 80’s as a teenager”.

The method of Pilates to build strength and maintain fitness is practiced regularly by millions around the world, a wonderful tribute to this person who once said “I am a man 50 years ahead of my time.”

Leave a Reply