About Joseph Pilates

Joseph H. Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880. Susceptibility to asthma, rheumatic fever and rickets left Pilates weak and frail as a child. He rehabilitated himself and his ailments through a keen interest in eastern and western forms of conditioning. Pilates dedicated himself to improving his strength and stamina. He grew to become an accomplished and well-rounded athlete—excelling in skiing, diving, boxing, gymnastics and bodybuilding.

It was in an English internment camp during World War I that the Pilates practice initially took shape, combining Eastern and Western forms like yoga, Zen, boxing, gymnastics and ancient Grecian and Roman regimens with new innovations. While working as a nurse, Joseph developed conditioning apparatus for immobilized patients. He rigged hospital beds with springs, allowing patients to practice whole body rehabilitation while still lying down. His experimentation led to the machine that would later be dubbed, "The Cadillac." The Cadillac is just one of the nine apparatus Pilates invented and used in the system he called Contrology.

After the war, Joseph moved to New York City with his wife and teaching partner, Clara. The fundamentals of the new form appealed to modern dancers and some athletes and from 1939 to 1951, Pilates gained notoriety and a substantial client base. By the 1960's, he counted such famous dancers as George Balanchine and Martha Graham among his clients. Indeed, legends of dance like Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Hanya Holm and Jerome Robbins all practiced and taught Pilates.

Its popularity ever growing, Pilates soon had a new teacher and a new studio owner in Corola Trier. Combining the fundamentals of Pilates with her own style and ideas, Trier maintained one of the first studios in New York City and a friendship with Joe and Clara. When Joe died in 1967, he left neither will nor successor to his work. Clara continued operating the studio in New York, but by the early 1970's, could no longer tend to it and handed over directorship of "The Pilates Studio" to Romana Kryzanowska.

The Pilates seed found purchase in a number of other studios. Joe and Clara's students opened their own practices in various areas of the country, such as Ron Fletcher who, with the blessing of Clara, opened a Los Angeles studio on Rodeo Drive. Ron Fletcher's studio in particular helped Pilates become a more widely accepted exercise form during the 1970's. Bruce King opened another New York City studio on 73rd Street; Mary Bowen started "Your Own Gym" in 1975 in North Hampton, Massachusetts; and Robert Fitzgerald opened yet another in New York City to serve the dance community. Eve Gentry, who taught at The Pilates Studio from 1938 to 1968, first taught the form at NYU's theater department and then went on to open her own studio in Santa Fe.

There are now fourth and fifth generation practitioners teaching the Pilates method. As Pilates himself was an innovator, so are the new teachers, shaping the fundamental principles with their own unique skills. With Pilates method as their guide and building block, today's teachers tailor regimens to fit a client's individual needs.

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BoulderBodyworks has been selected Best of Boulder for Pilates six years running: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, & 2015.

We are delighted to answer any questions that you may have and look forward to seeing you soon at BoulderBodyworks!