Pilates began life as 'Contrology' and was pioneered in the 20th century by the eponymous Joseph Pilates. Pilates was born in Mönchengladbach, a city just east of Düsseldorf in Germany. As a child, Joseph suffered from many ailments including asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Showing immense inner strength and resolve, Joseph dedicated his life to overcoming his fragile state and the results defied expectation and medical professionals at the time.
Joseph made his way to England during the early 1910s, but as the first World War broke out, he found himself interned with his fellow German nationals. This dire situation gave Joseph an opportunity to further develop his techniques and as WWI reached its end, he began working with patients who were unable to walk. At the Knockaloe camp on the Isle of Mann, Joseph would attach springs to hospital beds and these would support the patients' limbs. This contraption, for lack of a better word, eventually morphed into the 'Cadillac', the precursor to the modern reformer.