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Joseph Hubertus Pilates

(1880—1967)


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(1880–1967)

German inventor of pilates, a method of physical fitness. Pilates' father was an elite gymnast, his mother a naturopath. Taunted as a child for the similarity of the family name to the killer of Jesus Christ, Pilates was also asthmatic and in ill health. He found in physical exercise and strength-development programmes the means to establish self-esteem, and from his study of gymnastics, yoga, and bodybuilding he devised the Pilates system, which he piloted among inmates in an internment camp on the Isle of Man during World War I, having moved to England in 1912. It was his move to New York City (c.1925) that established a base for the recognition and popularity of his system, particularly among performing artists, and his clients included dancer Martha Graham. Pilates and his wife Clara had initially called the system ‘contrology’, and one of his co-authored, main books, Return to Life through Contrology (1945), captured in its title the system's promise of personal, individual restoration.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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