Pilates is an exercise method created by Joseph Pilates, designed to increase both strength and flexibility as well as create balance in the musculature to improve the efficiency of movement, and decrease the chances of injuries. Pilates referred to the system as Contrology, as control of movement from the powerhouse (the core) has always been a central tenet of Pilates.
In 1945 Pilates published his seminal book Return to Life Through Contrology where he details his philosophy behind the method as well as explaining and teaching the original mat work exercises, accompanied by photos of himself modeling the exercises.
The exercises detailed in Return to Life were the result of Pilates’ lifelong dedication to achieve good health for himself and others as well as his obsession of developing his body. Quite the sportsman he pursued boxing, fencing, and wrestling, probably one of the reasons for his studio’s popularity amongst boxers. Due to Pilates’ friendship with many prominent choreographers at the time Pilates became popular amongst dancers. Part of Pilates’ popularity amongst dancers and athletes was due to the fact that Physical Therapy did not yet exist, and he came to be known for helping with injury recovery. Many came to Pilates due to injury but quickly found that with the increased strength and better understanding of their body that Pilates taught them they were able to increase their performance significantly.