The History of Pilates


What is Pilates?

If you were like me the first time you heard about this Pilates thing (pronounced like “pirates”), the first thing you realized was that you needed to say it correctly!

Pilates (pi-LAH-teez) is a form of body conditioning developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. The method encompasses more than 500 exercises performed on various pieces of equipment that simultaneously stretch and strengthen muscles. Pilates focuses primarily on the ‘Powerhouse,’ or deepest abdominal muscles, and works the rest of the body from this core connection. In essence, Pilates is more than just the core; it’s a total body workout!

Joseph Pilates, born in Germany, developed his system while rehabilitating German nationalists during WWI. Pilates was a sickly child himself who physically conditioned himself to become a skilled boxer, gymnast, circus performer, skier and diver; he also practiced yoga and Zen meditation. While at the camp, he was instructed to exercise his patients, but only if they remained in their beds. Within these guidelines, he was able to construct a series of exercises using pulleys, straps, and springs. Pilates patients rehabilitated faster than other soldiers and he continued to develop his system of original exercises that he later called ‘Contrology.’

In 1925 he left for New York City and opened a gym side by side with several dance studios and rehearsal spaces. ‘Contrology’ – today known simply as Pilates – soon became a staple for dancers, used to strengthen, balance and rehabilitate them.

Joe had several protégé students who after his death at the age of 87 began teaching the works of Pilates. Pilates is quoted as saying “I’m fifty years ahead of my time.” Perhaps he was true as 50 years after his death, Pilates now is more than just a dancer’s supplemental program. Pilates has now entered mainstream fitness and athletics and is used as therapeutic modalities for physical therapists and chiropractors.

The Foundry is so excited to be offering Hot Pilates classes to students!  Check out our schedule for our Hot Pilates classes available and experience firsthand the amazing benefits of Pilates!