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Contra Costa Pilates Center


Joseph Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany, on November 30, 1880, and developed an early interest in physical health and body conditioning. He was a frail child who suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. In order to cope with these ailments, Mr. Pilates became a model for anatomical drawings at age 14 and dedicated himself to understanding methods of sustaining health and fitness.

Mr. Pilates moved to England in 1912 and worked as a self- defense instructor at Scotland yard. During World War I, Mr. Pilates was interned as an "enemy alien" with other Germans in Lancaster. He became a nurse during this time, training other camp internees to keep physically fit with his unique exercises that used spring resistance. He attached springs to hospital beds to help bedridden patients exercise using the resistance from the springs. Joseph Pilates was given credit when none of the individuals he trained succumbed to an epidemic of influenza, which killed thousands of others in England during 1918.

After being released from the intern camp, Mr. Pilates relocated to Hamburg for a period of time, where his method of body conditioning became known amongst the dance community. through Rudolf von Laban, who created a form of dance notation which is still used today. and Hanya Holm “The Holm Technique” who used many of Joe’s exercises. In 1926 Joseph Pilates decided to immigrate to New York City for a new life. While on his voyage he met Clara, who later became his wife. He also had the opportunity to train Max Schmelling, the renowned German boxer who became famous in America. Mr. Pilates and his wife Clara opened a fitness studio in New York City in which he shared an address with the New York City Ballet.

In New York City, Mr. Pilates trained a variety of people: working men and women, circus performers, boxers and health enthusiasts. As his reputation began to grow, celebrities and such notable choreographers as Martha Graham and George Balanchine learned of Contrology. Realizing the remarkable benefits of Mr. Pilates’ method of body conditioning, Balanchine and Graham would refer dancers to Mr. Pilates’ studio to sustain strength, flexibility and rehabilitating injuries. Joseph Pilates' system of body conditioning continued to develop with his designs of specific exercise equipment.

By the early 1960s, the Pilates' could count among their clients many New York dancers. George Balanchine also invited Pilates to instruct his young ballerinas at the New York City Ballet. In fact, "Pilates" was becoming popular outside of New York as well. As the New York Herald Tribune noted in 1964, "in dance classes around the United States, hundreds of young students limber up daily with an exercise they know as a pilates, without knowing that the word has a capital P, and a living, right-breathing namesake”.

Joe continued to train clients at his studio until his death in 1967 at the age of 87. In the 1970s, Hollywood celebrities discovered Pilates through Ron Fletcher's studio in Beverly Hills. In the late 1980s, the media began to cover Pilates extensively. The public took note, and the Pilates business boomed."I'm fifty years ahead of my time," Joe once claimed. He was right, five million Americans practice Pilates, and the numbers continue to grow.

Contact the Contra Costa Pilates Center for your appointment!

Contra Costa Pilates Center
1280 Boulevard Way, Suite 210 Walnut Creek, CA 94595
(925) 938-2022 or email Contra Costa Pilates Center

for an appointment call: (925) 938-2002

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