Joseph Hubertus Pilates was once a sickly child who dedicated himself to exercise to make himself strong and healthy. He took up body-building and by his teens, he got work as a model for anatomical drawings.
He researched and practised as many exercises as he could from classical Roman and Greek exercise regimes as well as body-building and gymnastics. He also practised yoga, tai chi, martial arts and Zen meditation. He carefully recorded the results of his experiments. Part of his studies also included anatomy and animal movements.
Later on, he became a professional boxer, expert skier and diver and even taught himself self-defense. He even became a circus acrobat. During WWII, he got the chance to work as nurse where he experimented with attaching springs to hospital beds to patients can start toning their muscles even while still bed-bound. This method started the origins of the first pilates machine know as the Pilates reformer.
He later worked with pioneers of movement technique such as Rudolph Laban who created the basis system of dance notation still used today.
He later moved to America where he opened his first studio in New York along with his wife Clara and an assistant. His new method was an instant hit especially among dancers who also became devotees to the exercise method. They found Pilates to be the best way to recover from injuries as well as in preventing them. From then on, the Pilates method gained an even wider audience.