Where Pilates Began
Joseph Pilates, from a very young age, dedicated his life to becoming physically stronger. He became proficient at various sports and fitness systems. Body building, diving, skiing, gymnastics, yoga, self-defence, dance and circus training all influenced him, and he chose aspects of each to develop his own body. He eventually worked out a system with the perfect balance of strength and flexibility.
In 1912 he moved to England. During World War 1 he was interned in camps and used his time there to refine his ideas, combining various techniques from his previous training. He trained other internees in his exercise system, including bedridden patients, and encouraged them to exercise against resistance. During this time thousands of people died when an influenza epidemic broke out in England but Joseph said that not one of his trainees died. He testifies that this is due to the effectiveness of his exercise techniques.
When the war ended, Joseph continued to practice his fitness programmes, eventually arriving in New York where he set up an exercise studio. He built up a reputation for helping injured clients which would lead to a lot of professional dancers, performers and athletes being advised to go work with him. There's a misunderstanding that his method was created for dancers and athletes but it's actually that they were just drawn to the method for its benefits and therefore it got popular amongst those disciplines first. As word spread the Pilates technique has become increasingly popular amongst the general public and it is praised by medical professionals for its rehabilitative qualities.