Joseph H. Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880. Pilates suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever as a child. Determined to overcome his ailments, he studied both Eastern and Western exercise forms including Yoga, Zen and ancient Grecian and Roman regimes. Over his lifetime, he developed a method of exercise designed to strengthen and stretch muscles, open up the joints and release tension. He then applied his engineering skills to his knowledge of exercise and anatomy and designed apparatus geared specifically to his philosophy.

Pilates brought his revolutionary method of physical and mental conditioning to the United States in the early 1920s. His studio in New York City caught the attention of the dance community and his method became an integral part of dance training. Dance legends such as Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Martha Graham, George Balanchine, Hanya Holm and Jerome Robbins have all practiced and taught this work.

Pilates believed his work was 50 years ahead of its time, and he was accurate in his projection. Today, hospitals and physical therapy centers worldwide use Pilates to rehabilitate injured athletes and dancers. Many athletes now incorporate this method into their training, and it is quickly becoming a household name. People from all walks of life are discovering and choosing this technique as part of their fitness program.