The Pilates Method was the creation of Joseph Pilates. Born in Germany in 1883. It was said, as a child he was physically weak and sickly. He developed a system of exercises which were intended to strengthen the human mind and body. Pilates believed that mental and physical health are interrelated.
Joseph Pilates introduced the idea of working with resistance whilst interned during the war. He attached springs to hospital beds to help patients tone their muscles and recover from illness and injury. He then went on to develop his equipment, primarily working with resistance against tensioned springs, to target specific muscle groups.
After the war, Pilates moved to the USA. He opened his first studio in New York City with the help of his wife Clara. They went on to teach many celebrities of the day and worked particularly with dancers from the New York City Ballet Company. Joseph's first students went on to teach his methods and open their own studios. Matwork was actually devised as an alternative from the machines as it seemed practical for clients when practising at home or without access to an equipment studio. The Pilates we now have today is derived from Joseph's original method, many elements remain unchanged, but the system has also evolved and benefited from new theories and advancements on human structure and movement.
Pilates has become popular with celebrities. Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow,, Hugh Grant, Lorraine Kelly, Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff, Elena Baltacha (British tennis player), Lis Hurley, Joan Bakewell (writer and broadcaster, on the secret of her health and agility at the age of 70), Joan Collins and members of the Royal family, are all advocates.