Pilates was developed in the early 1920's by Joseph Pilates who was born in Dusseldorf in 1880. As a child he was very frail; anxieties over him contracting tuberculosis prompted him to start body building. By the age of 14 he was posing for anatomy charts and studying them enthusiastically. He was also a keen sportsman - diving, skiing, gymnastics, boxing and wrestling were amongst his interests.
At the outbreak of the First World War Joseph found himself in England instructing detectives in self-defence and it was during this time that he fully developed his ideas about health and fitness. He returned to Germany after the war and later travelled to America where he eventually opened his own studio in New York.
The 'elite' of New York were attracted to his studio, with ballet dancers coming to him because his exercises perfected and complimented their traditional training. Actors, actresses, athletes, the rich and famous were all drawn to the workout that recognised individual's needs and built strength without adding bulk, balancing strength with flexibility and achieving the perfect harmony between mind and muscle.