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Joe Pilates Story: The Early Years

Joe Pilates

It’s great to look at how the genius inventor and teacher Joe Pilates became one of the great influencers in physical fitness and wellness methods of the 20th and early 21st century. There were some key influences and events that shaped his life and his work.

Like so many driven and exceptional people Joe had to overcome adversity many times in his life. Born in Germany in 1883 to a German mother and Greek father Joe was not a healthy well-developed child. He was a weak child suffering from Rheumatic fever and other illnesses including asthma and rickets, which had left him small and underdeveloped for his age.

Joe decided he could change his situation and applied himself to study and embody wellness and fitness from this difficult start. He learnt gymnastics and boxing, studied anatomy. He also told later how he would observe the natural intelligence in the movements of animals and infants and then used that observation to inform his work outs and his thinking about fitness. During this period Joe developed and practiced exercises to overcome his poor health and weak physicality, eventually attaining a strong muscular physique, good posture and ongoing freedom from ill health.

As a young adult he was literally a poster boy for the physical ideal, posing for anatomy charts and diagrams. He was supported in this amazing achievement by his nurturing home environment and his parents’ professional knowledge. His mother was a Naturopath and father an award-winning Gymnast.


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