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Joseph Pilates – A Biography & Some history

Joseph Hubertus Pilates, inventor of the Pilates Method, is a sickly child, suffering from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever.  In an effort to recover his health, helped by his mother, a naturopathic doctor, and his father, a gymnast, he begins studying anatomy.

He believes that mental and physical health are linked and studies disciplines considered exotic at the time such as yoga, martial arts, also gymnastics and boxing, also incorporating ancient Greek and Roman forms of physical exercise.  He is persuaded that the ‘modern’ lifestyle (bad posture, incorrect breathing, exercising which ignores the postural muscles…) are elements which contribute to fragile health.

In 1912, Joseph moves to England where he boxes professionally and teaches self-defence in the Police schools and at Scotland Yard.

It is during his imprisonment in a prisoner-of-war camp during the war that he develops the concept of his ‘machines’ understanding the efficiency he can achieve.

In 1926, he leaves for New York to establish, with his wife Clara, their first Pilates studio, where he teaches his method of physical fitness which he initially calls ‘Contrology’.

Numerous ardent followers adhere to what was then, a revolutionary method, putting the emphasis on breathing during exercise, and harmony between the mental and the physical whilst practising.  Athletes adhere to Pilates because it enables them to accelerate recovery from sporting injuries and strengthen their bodies.

Legendary dancers and choreographers, Martha Graham and George Balanchine, were unconditional supporters of Pilates and regularly sent their pupils to ‘Uncle Joe’s’ studio.

The Pilates studio rapidly becomes the most sought-after place in New York to stay fit and attracts athletes, celebrities, show biz personalities…

In 1941, the dancer, Romana Krysanowska, injures her ankle and following advice from George Balanchine, studies, and follows therapy with Joseph Pilates.  Impressed by the results she obtains, she decides to study with Joseph Pilates.  She remains at his side until his death in 1967.

He died in an accident aged 87.
Romana was personally designated by Joseph Pilates to continue teaching and sharing his method.  She trained dozens of instructors worldwide until her death in 2013.

It is Romana’s daughter, Sari Mejia Santo, who also studied with Joseph Pilates since childhood, who keeps the authentic method alive.

Instructors certificated by the Romana Method Pilates are guaranteed to teach the original method