The originsHistory

Pilates and the dance world in the USA

In New York, Joseph H. Pilates – who, in the States, had simply become "Joe" – together with his wife Clara, had opened his Studio right next to the New York City Ballet headquarters, on the Eighth Avenue. Here, he started to have, among his Clients, the most famous ballet dancers in the City who begun to experience on themselves the extraordinary benefits of his training both on general health and professional performance.

George Balanchine – a legend of ballet and one of the founding fathers of contemporary choreography – used to work out at Joe's and encouraged his ballerinas to go study with him.

Even Martha Graham, a myth of modern dance, considered by many the greatest American dancer of the XX Century, was a regular Client of Joe's Studio, benefiting of his endless inventions.

In 1967, the newspaper Herald Tribune reported that hundreds of dancers, all over the States, trained themselves every day performing the revolutionary exercises that, at this point, everybody called simply "pilates".

In that way, Pilates' fame, starting from the dance world, spread in different areas and all over the nation.

Romana Kryzanowska and the elders' legacy

Joseph Pilates went on training his Clients in his Studio till his death, which occurred at the age of 87, but he didn't leave any will nor any line of succession for his work.

Nevertheless, his legacy bloomed all over the States thanks to the activity of the first generation of his students, called "the elders".

Among those, in the Seventies, Romana Kryzanowska was the one who inherited Joe's Studio from his wife Clara.

Right at Romana's, Anna Maria Cova, more than a decade later, would have been studying the discipline that, in Italy, very few had ever heard of: Pilates.

Among the first generations' students who carried on, each one in his own way, his legacy, there were Lolita San Miguel and Mary Bowen. The first one, a professional dancer in many different companies and then famous choreographer, opened his own Studio in 2000 in Puerto Rico. The latter, Jungian psycho-analyst, represents the most meaningful case of contamination between Pilates and psychoanalysis. Both of them are still in the business.

In the Seventies, another "elder", Ron Fletcher, former Martha Graham's dancer who studied at Joe's since the 40s, started a business in Los Angeles, attracting many Hollywood's stars in his Beverly Hills Studio and introducing Pilates on the West Coast.

Pilates, the celebrities' work out

Starting from California, in the 70s, Pilates became the favorite work out of Hollywood's stars.

Ali McGrow, Candice Bergen, Judith Krantz, Joan Collins practiced Pilates with success discovering another of its numerous benefits: the aesthetic one. In fact, not only Joe's gym could provide functional advantages but it was also able to enhance the body from an aesthetic standpoint by ensuring streamlined muscles and a graceful posture.

The Eighties established the Pilates' consecration as the favorite physical training by celebrities, with Steven Spielberg and Madonna among the first.

With the Stars, it also came the Media which started to talk about Pilates widely.

Through the Eighties, Pilates, from élites' discipline, became known to the greater public and started to be practiced with huge success in gyms and Studios all over the States.

Pilates for everyone

"All new ideas are revolutionary" – writes J.H. Pilates – "and when the theory behind that is demonstrated by practice, it only takes time for new ideas to develop and flourish. Revolutionary ideas can never be ignored, they cannot be put aside. […] Truth comes out eventually and for this I trust that my teaching will reach out to the masses and at the end will be adopted as universal".

Today Pilates is practiced by millions of people who demonstrate the benefits of a discipline which proved to be particularly appropriate for the contemporary life.

Here are the guiding principles which are the technique foundation.