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Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Mönchengladbach, a small village close to Düsseldorf, in 1883. He was a skinny and sickly child. He suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. For this reason, his muscles were weak and led to postural distortion and joint ankylosis (which meant very limited or lack of movements).
Since he was a child, his physical weakness led him to study the human body and to try and find a way to make it stronger, through physical exercise.
He studied animal movements, the ancient Greek and Roman training methods, Western sports, martial arts, and Eastern philosophies.

By joining and eliminating elements from each of these disciplines, he created a simple method, open to everybody, that enhances our body liveliness and that strengthens our immune system.
He was so determined to get better that once he overcame his illnesses he became an anatomy model and later on he became a great sportsman and athlete.

When World War I broke out, J.H. Pilates was living in England. He became a prisoner of war, due to his German nationality, and was confined in a concentration camp. That is where he started to elaborate his method. He created some exercises for himself and for his cell-mates. He tied some elastic ropes to their beds, in order to allow the wounded and the ill, who couldn't get up from their bed, to work out. In the end, he was hired to work for the English health service.

After the war, when he went back to Germany, his success attracted Adolf Hitler's attention, who wanted to hire him to train the German secret police. J.H. Pilates turned down his offer and had to emigrate to the United States in 1923.

In Manhattan, together with his wife Clara, he opened a school where he started to teach and spread his method. He soon became very well known among choreographers, dancers, actors and great sportsmen.

Pilates called his own method CONTROLOGY and he defined it as follows:

”The science and art of the coordinated development of mind, body, and spirit, through natural movements and the thorough control of our will”.

Later on, this technique was spread and known as the Pilates Method, to honor its creator.