About Pilates – The History of Joe & Clara

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. The son of a prize winning gymnast and a naturopath, Joe was interested in health and fitness from a very young age. He studied many forms of fitness as a child including Body-Building, Zen, Yoga and Gymnastics and posed for anatomical charts as a teenager. Pilates moved to England in 1912 and worked as a Professional Boxer and also for Scotland Yard as a self defence trainer.

Pilates was still living in England when World War I broke out and Pilates, being German, was sent to a Prisoner of War Camp on the Isle of Man. This is where the Method of Pilates was born. Joe Pilates had a lot of time on his hands whilst he was interned during WWI and so he spent his days developing a system of physical exercises and training his fellow inmates in his method which he named “Contrology”. Contrology was based around eight basic principals; Concentration, Breath, Centering, Control, Precision, Flowing Movement, Isolation and Routine. It has been claimed that the reason so many people survived in the camp with Pilates is because of their good physical shape – which is thanks to Pilates and his Method.

After the war Pilates moved back to Germany and collaborated with experts in Dance and Physical Exercise but he didn’t stay in Germany long as he refused to train members of the German Army, instead he decided to immigrate to the USA. On the ship Joe met a lady named Clara, who would be his future wife and help him develop his method further. On their arrival in New York, Joe and Clara set up a studio to teach the method that is today known as Pilates.

It wasn’t long before they had a devoted group of followers made up mostly from dancers including Martha Graham. Their following continued to grow and both Joe and Clara were still teaching their method well in the 1960’s. Joe Pilates died in New York in 1967.

Only a few of Pilates’ original pupils (first generation) are still teaching and following the Pilates Method.

Fiona Brown, founder of Realistic Pilates, is a 5th Generation Pilates Teacher; she has de-constructed the Pilates method to suit a wider range of clients with a variety of health issues and joint problems. Our Realistic method of Pilates is based around mat work and the stability ball ensuring our classes are suitable for almost anyone to enjoy.

We also offer a 1:1 service for clients who are recovering from injury, post-surgery or perhaps just need to boost their confidence before committing to a class. Don’t hesitate to ask about our 1:1 Pilates sessions which can be booked at a time to suit you. If you would like to know more please call 0131 669 8888

“My knees feel the benefit and my core feels stronger. I come out of class with a real buzz” – Pamela

“Fun, fab and more flexible” – Alison

“I  leave class feeling focused, balanced and ready for the day” – Hazel