Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates from Mönchengladbach, Germany. His father was a gymnast and his mother was a naturopath.
In the first half of the twentieth century, he developed an exercise system aimed at strengthening the human mind and body. Pilates believed that mental and physical health are interrelated.
In his youth, he applied many physical education regimes in Germany and developed his own method from them. It has clear links to the physical culture of the late nineteenth century, such as the use of special tools, and claims that exercise can improve health. It is also related to the tradition of "corrective exercise" or "medical gymnastics" as Pehr Henrik Ling puts it.
Pilates said that the inspiration for his method came to him during the First World War when he was held in the Knockaloe concentration camp on the Isle of Man. He developed his method by working on fellow intern students there for four years.
Joseph Pilates accompanied his method with various equipment using the term "apparatus". Each apparatus is designed to help accelerate the process of stretching, strengthening, body alignment and increased core strength that begins with mat work. The Reformer, today's best known and most popular device, was originally called Universal Reformer and aptly called "reforming the body universally." He eventually designed other devices, including Pilates, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, High "Electric" Chair, Spine Trimmer, Ladder Barrel, and Pedi-Pole. 
Pilates published two books on the training method: Your Health: A Corrective Exercise System That Revolutionized the Whole Physical Education Field in 1934 and Return to Life with Control in 1945.
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