Joseph Hubertus Pilates

1883 – 1967

Joe Pilates and Contrology


If, at the age of 30, you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60, you are supple and strong, then you are young.

Joseph Pilates

Joe Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He was a small, sickly child and suffered from asthma and rheumatic fever.

He became a boxer and gymnast in Germany prior to coming to England and worked with his brother as a circus performer. He was interned in WW1 as an enemy alien, and it was in the camp on the Isle of Man that he developed his system of exercise which he called Contrology. He used the system to work with the other detainees.


Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.

He went to the US in 1926 and met his wife Clara on the boat. They opened a gym in NYC at 939 Eighth Avenue. He gained a reputation for helping dancers with strengthening and rehab and had many famous names attending his studio. Romana Kryzanowska amongst others carried the flame following Joe’s death in 1967.

He was undoubtedly a genius.  His method has a worldwide following and continues to grow.

In a nutshell, mind and breath work together to train the body.