History of Pilates


Joseph H. Pilates, born in 1883, was a man ahead of his time. He dedicated his entire life to improving his physical strength, and translating his understanding of the human body to helping others. Pilates came to believe that the "modern" life-style, bad posture, and inefficient breathing lay at the roots of poor health. He ultimately devised a series of exercises and training-techniques, engineering all the equipment, specifications, and tuning required to teach his methods properly. Immigrating from Germany to the United States in the mid 1920’s Joseph Pilates settled in New York City with his new wife Clara. Together they established a fitness studio which became popular with dance artists. They called their method Controlology. And with the use of this method there is the belief of a deep connection of the mind to physical movement.

Pilates was the creator of the work, while his wife Clara is remembered as the true teacher. It was Clara who encouraged Pilates’ protégés to carry on Pilates’ work. One of the seven that trained extensively with Joe and Clara was Ron Fletcher.


Ron was a dancer with The Martha Graham Dance Company when he arrived at Pilates’ studio with a knee injury. As Ron so often told the story, Joe’s focus was not solely on his knee, but he began to work the whole body with Ron. The essence of the Pilates work is whole body alignment, strengthening, and increased range of motion. The body works as a whole. The movement in our bodies is seen as being directed by our breath. And it was with this philosophy that Joe helped Ron Fletcher, as well as countless others in their rehabilitation process.

Ron Fletcher took the work to Los Angeles in 1972, working with the movie stars and added his background of the Martha Graham work to Pilates. The Fletcher work has expanded world wide, and continues to grow. Similarly, there were other protégé of Joseph Pilates who added their own touch as they passed their knowledge on to others. Those who have stayed true to the work, regardless of mentorship, incorporate the basic Pilates principles that Joseph Pilates intended for the work.

The International Headquarters of Fletcher Pilates is located in Tucson, Arizona. To learn more about Fletcher Pilates go to the website www.fletcherpilates.com.


Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates



Ron Fletcher