The word reformer comes from the verb to improve by alteration, correct an error, remove a defect or to put in better form. Joseph Pilates created a series of ‘apparatus’ as he called them with the mission of transforming the human body. The centrepiece of these inventions was the Reformer. Joe said of course you can exercise without a machine but it’s not as efficient. New movement patterns become habitual faster when performed under load and the resistance encourages quicker adaption in the neuromuscular system.

One of the many benefits of the reformer is that it provides tactile feedback much like a teachers hand. As Benjamin Degenhardt (contemporary Pilates guru) explains: to sum it up in nerd language, the reformer gives the body a clear trajectory in which to move – a closed kinetic chain for improved proprioceptive feedback and added load for accelerated neural adaptation. In non-nerd language – it makes you move better as it organically moves with you. It corrects your body by removing erroneous movement patterns by putting you

In a better position and resisting you along the way. The spring can act either like your spine or your lungs.


–  As a child Joe suffered from many health problems; asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever
–  He overcomes this by inventing his own system of exercise and body building

–  Before WW1 Joe was touring England as a circus performer and professional boxer

–  In WW1 Joe was placed in a German refugee camp as an enemy alien where he took the springs from the metal beds and attached them to headrests and footboards to help his bed ridden fellow German soldiers…
–  Legend has it that not a single one of his soldiers in 1918 died from the flu epidemic

 –  He trains police officers back in Germany

–  He moves to NYC in 1925 with his 3rd wife Clara and they open in Manhattan the first Body Contrology

Studio in the same building as New York City Ballet

–  By 1960, Pilates is gaining popularity by not just dancers but also Hollywood

–  In the 1980s the media covers Pilates and it is no longer the workout of the elite and enters the fitness


–  Becomes crucial adjunct for training for NFL, NBA and many Olympic sports

–  In 1992 the word Pilates is copyrighted. In 1999 through numerous lawsuits the word ‘Pilates’ becomes a

generic word