German-born Joseph Pilates developed his unique system of exercises during World War 1 while he was interned, working as a nurse taking care of British soldiers. After the war, he moved to New York City where he trained with boxers and other professional sports trainers. In the 1940s, Martha Graham and George Balanchine discovered his work and brought it into the dance world. Since then, Pilates has established itself as a premier exercise system for people of all levels of fitness, as well as a powerful tool for physical therapy.
Joseph Pilates was well ahead of his time. Today his system is one of the most complete approaches to strength training. It was designed to teach the most economic, balanced, and graceful way to move. Pilates does not isolate individual parts of the body but always works with the whole body, focusing on core muscles. Through controlled movements on mats and specially designed equipment, Pilates exercises support the body to rediscover its natural movement. Muscular tensions and imbalances are alleviated as the body comes back into correct alignment.
By the 1990s, the Pilates Method became mainstream, Hollywood playing a big part in its popularity as more and more celebrities became Pilates practitioners. Today dancers and athletes, seniors and people suffering from back pain or other physical problems, physical therapists and doctors, and those looking for a balanced exercise program swear by the Pilates Method and its unique way of combining stretching and core strengthening in every single move.