building strength, endurance, stamina and flexibility

History of Classical Pilates

"Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind & elevates the spirit. "
Joseph Pilates 1880-1967

Joseph Pilates was a pioneer in exercise science long before it became the familiar subject it is today. His book "Return to Life through to Contrology" was first published in 1945. Born in Germany in 1880 he suffered from a variety of illnesses including asthma and rheumatic fever but realised that exercise could make him stronger. He studied various exercise regimes and devised his mat based workout which he did daily; this forms the basis of today's Classical Pilates Mat workout. While he was interned in the UK during the World War 1 he worked in a hospital and created exercise machines from springs and pulleys attached to hospital beds. Credit - Pilates Method Alliance


He understood that movement healed and he got bedridden patients moving. This was a very radical approach at the time but something we all now know to be best practice.

The 21 st century Reformer consists of normally a wooden or metal frame with a unique combination of springs, pulleys, straps and a sliding carriage.

Rather than using an isolated set of muscles to move an external force such as a weight stack the Pilates student is coached to use the "powerhouse" to lift and pull the body's weight along with the Reformer's spring loaded carriage.

Classical Pilates is a movement system designed to challenge the body to work within a full range of movement building strength and endurance, stamina and flexibility. We maintain the integrity and essence of Joseph's original teachings. One of our teachers, Claire Dunphy B.S. Peak Pilates Master Trainer and Owner of Progressive Bodyworks, Boston, was taught by Romana Kryzanowska who was in turn taught by Joseph Pilates.

For more information on the life and work of Joseph Pilates please go to


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