Frequently Asked Questions about Pilates

What is Pilates? 

The Pilates Method of body conditioning was developed by Joseph Pilates more than 70 years ago. For many years, Pilates training remained a well-kept secret in the world of dance and the performing arts. In recent years the growing interest in “mind/body” exercise has brought Pilates concepts to the forefront of fitness training. Source:

Where did Pilates come from?

Joseph Pilates and the History of Pilates

What’s all the fuss about? Pilates seems to have burst on the scene out of nowhere in the last 10 years. After decades as the workout of the elite, Pilates has entered the fitness mainstream. What’s the fascinating store behind how Pilates began, and why the recent “overnight success”? Here’s a brief look at its history.

How Pilates Began

Joe went to England in 1912, where he worked as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. At the outbreak of World War I, Joe was interned as an “enemy alien” with other German nationals. During his internment, Joe refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. He rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joe’s trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system.

The Pilates movement gains in popularity – from Europe to the U.S.

In 1926, Joe emigrated to the United States. During the voyage he met Clara, whom he later married. Joe and Clara opened a fitness studio in New York, sharing an address with the New York City Ballet.

By the early 1960s, Joe and Clara could count among their clients many New York dancers. George Balanchine studied “at Joe’s,” as he called it, and also invited Pilates to instruct his young ballerinas at the New York City Ballet.

“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.”

What are the benefits of Pilates exercise?

Pilates elongates the spine, increasing the elasticity of muscles and the flexibility of joints. This balance between strength and flexibility drastically reduces the potential for injury. It emphasizes flowing movements requiring the use of multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Controlled breathing and concentration are essential, making Pilates truly a workout for the body and the mind. It avoids the tendency of many exercise forms to emphasize the muscles which are stronger and to neglect those which are already weaker. In this way Pilates can help your body to regain efficient patterns of motion – a great benefit to those recovering from injury, professional athletes and performers, or anyone seeking good posture and optimal health.

What is Stott Pilates?

STOTT Pilates is the contemporary approach to Pilates. It has found favor with physical therapists, professional athletes and personal trainers. According to STOTT PILATES Co-founders Lindsay and Moira Merrithew, the low-impact neuromuscular system of exercise yields such significant results and feels so good to do that people become hooked very quickly. STOTT PILATES is the method taught by instructors at The Body Center. It involves controlled exercises performed on a mat or using specially designed resistance equipment, such as the Fitness Circle and the Reformer, Cadillac, Stability Chair and Barrels. The repertoire of hundreds of exercises is designed to tone, elongate and strengthen muscles, while improving body awareness and posture, and relieving stress.