Who invented Pilates? All about Joseph Pilates, the Fitness Reformer who invented the Pilates Method!

pilates training joseph pilates

Joseph Pilates Facts

Pilates is one of the most popular sports worldwide. The whole body training tones the muscles, promotes an upright posture and deepens the breath. Did you know that the Pilates training method was invented in first half of the 20th century by a German guy called Joseph Hubertus Pilates? Find out more about the trainer who changed the fitness world through the following facts:

  • Even though Josep Pilates used to say that his forefathers were from Greek, he came from a poor German family and was born in Möchengladbach in December 1883.
  • Throughout his career, Pilates claimed to be older than his real age to get appreciation for looking younger than he actually is.
  • Raised with eight siblings by a locksmith and a factory worker, Pilates was said to be a weak child throughout. Thats why his fellow students used to call him “Pontius Pilates”. He started working out in the gymnastics club as a teenager to became stronger which brought him respect amongst his peer group.
  • Pilates married three times. He had two children with his first wife Maria, who was older than him. He left her and the kids who resided in Germany when he left to England. For two years, no one really knew where Pilates was. His wife died in 1913, around one year before he came back to Germany. His second wife was the widow Elfriede Lattemann, who he married after coming back from England, where he gave gymnastics lessons during World War I. His only long time life partner and late wife was Clara Zeuner who he met in 1926 on his way to New York.
  • After the First World War, he opened a boxing studio and registered his first patent in 1922: a machine to strengthen the foot and leg muscles. Later on he invented another exercising machine which strengthend the hull and springs.
  • He moved to New York in 1926 to continue his career. Pilates lived in the district Hell’s Kitchen, where he developed another new machine called “Reformer”.
  • His trademark were black swim trunks.
  • When the dancer Ruth St. Denis went to Pilates studio in 1929 and seeked help for her knees and overweightness, he became known through mouth propaganda. Later on, more famous people inlucding actress Katherine Hepburn started exercising in Pilates studio.
  • He was once almost offered a contract at a hospital in 1955 to help breast cancer patients in rehabilitation. Since Pilates had no medical training, the contract was withdrawn at the last moment.
  • His girlfriend Clara Zeuner also worked in his studio as a teacher.
  • Pilates was even trying to reach out to the former president of the U.S. – John F. Kennedy. He wanted to help him overcome his back problems.
  • He died in October 1977 at the age of 83. His wife Clara continued his work until 1977 when she died at age 94. Pilates students already opened their own studies during his lifetime and went on spreading his unique training technique. Today, Pilates is worldwide known.

Featured image: Mulher e personal trainer a praticar Pilates no Ladder Barrel, num estúdio completo de PilatesHelderoliveiraCC BY-SA 4.0

September 29, 2020
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