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"Pilates His-story and His Influence on Sam's Career in the Health and Wellness Industry!"

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Pilates has evolved from Joseph's original repertoire of 34 exercises, now known as Classical Pilates, which stays as close as possible to the original. Contemporary Pilates is based on the work of Joseph Pilates but has been modernised by adjusting the exercises to fit with modern research and has a heavy influence from physical therapy and biomechanics.

The History of Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates developed Pilates, from Mönchengladbach, Germany. Born in 1880, his father was a gymnast and his mother a naturopath. During the first half of the 20th century, he developed a system of exercises that were intended to strengthen the human mind and body.

He was a sickly child who suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever, and it was these illnesses that inspired Pilates to dedicate his life to becoming physically stronger. In his youth, Pilates studied and became proficient at bodybuilding, diving, skiing, and gymnastics, and by the age of 14, Pilates was fit enough to pose for anatomical charts.


In 1912, Pilates moved to England and worked as a boxer, circus performer, and self-defence trainer of English detectives. During World War I, he was interned as an 'enemy alien' with other German nationals in Lancaster Castle. Whilst there, he worked as a nurse and trained other interns in physical fitness. He set up pulley systems above patients' beds to enable them to exercise and later developed the Cadillac, Reformer and other equipment of which modern versions can be seen in the latest Pilates studios. After the war, Pilates continued his fitness programme in Hamburg working with the local Police. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not even one of Joe’s trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system.

The Pilates Teaser, not an easy position to hold!

By 1926 Pilates left Germany to live in America. Whilst on the ship to New York he met his future (and third) wife Clara. Once in New York, Pilates set up an exercise studio and by 1940 he had achieved notoriety in the dance community. A dance magazine in 1956 reported 'virtually every dancer in New York between 1939 and 1951 has meekly submitted to the spirited instruction of Joe Pilates'. 

During his lifetime only two of Pilates' students opened their own studios. When Pilates passed away in 1967, he had left no will and no succession for the Pilates work to carry on. Over the subsequent years, many more Pilates studios were opened and more Pilates training courses were developed. Instructors brought innovations and advancements to the Pilates' work, and it is still advancing and developing throughout the world to this day. 

“I’m fifty years ahead of my time,” Joe once claimed. He was right!

The Control Balance - advanced level!

Click the button for a wonderfully informative 12-minute BBC Sounds report - Meeting Mr Pilates

Sam has been a fitness instructor since 1993 and after falling in love with the Pilates method has undergone extensive Pilates training, primarily in the contemporary style, over the past 23 years. However, she has also included courses covering the original repertoire to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the exercises, as well as the excellent strength flexibility, mobility, flow and alignment required to perform at this level.

Sam's training providers are among the best in the industry and include Michael King's Pilates Institute, Stott Pilates, Future Fit Training, Cherry Baker Education, Lydia Campbell, Biomechanics Education, Facia Training Academy, Dr. Julia Jones, Jenny Burrell and Michelle Lyons Muliebrity Education. In particular, she completed Diamond Pilates with Cherry Baker Education, which focuses on pelvic dysfunction and Lydia Campbell's Trigger Point Pilates for the release of stress and fascia restrictions. Additionally, Sam became an 'I Move Freely' Instructor with Biomechanics Education, a Fascial Fitness Trainer with Fascia Training Academy and a Smart Wellness Pro with Dr. Julia Jones. She also received training in Hypermobility, Fatigue and Fibromyalgia with Cherry Baker, Back Pain in Women and Strategies for Improved Breathing with Michelle Lyons Muliebrity Education.

To further support her clients' total wellness, Sam is completing additional training in Jenny Burrell's 3rd Age Women Menopause Transition, Practical Pain Science, Trauma-informed Care in Pelvic Physiotherapy and Counselling skills. These enable her to provide mental health support and understanding to her clients, in addition to physical training. Sam's commitment to ongoing learning and professional development demonstrates her dedication to providing the highest quality coaching service to her clients.

Albert Einstein famously said:

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.”

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