Joe- The Originator – What was his intention?


There is both a science and an art to the exercises first developed by Joe and Clara Pilates. These exercises are much more than movements: They are strategically coordinated with a deep understanding of fundamental biomechanical and physiological realities of the body. For instance, did you know that lack of motion of the sacrum causes dural tension between the cranium and the sacrum, and that with that tension, the spinal cord can shorten up to two inches and curvatures can become distorted? Pilates movements keep the sacrum mobile. And that’s just one example.

Pilates was originally a gymnast, diver, and bodybuilder, but when he moved to England in 1912, he earned a living as a professional boxer, circus-performer, and self-defense trainer at police schools and Scotland Yard. Nevertheless, the British authorities interned him during World War I, first in Lancaster Castle where he taught wrestling and self-defence, boasting that his students would emerge stronger than they were before their internment. It was here that he began refining and teaching his minimal equipment system of mat exercises that later became “Contrology”. He was then transferred to another internment camp on the Isle of Man. During this involuntary break, he began to intensively develop his concept of an integrated, comprehensive system of physical exercise, which he himself called “Contrology”. He studied yoga and the movements of animals and trained his fellow inmates in fitness and exercises. It is said that these inmates survived the 1918 flu pandemic due to their good physical shape. He knew that keeping the spine mobile would have them survive what all others did not.


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