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Clara Pilates

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:02pm

Is it true that behind every man is a surprised woman? Maybe in some cases, but not in the case of Joseph and Clara Pilates.

Joseph and Clara Pilates met in 1926, on their boat from Europe to America. He had already begun teaching his exercises in Germany and she was a nurse and teacher. With their backgrounds, you can see why they were the perfect match to create, promote, and teach their exercise method. It is even said that while on the boat, Joe gave Clara a few exercises to help with her arthritis pain.

In their original studio at 939 8th Ave in New York City, Joe and Clara began teaching their method, which they called, Contrology, to many dancers and performers who also had studios in the area. Today, when we think of pilates, we know there are many aspects to the method- it can be a deep workout, it can be mentally challenging, it can be eye opening. This is largely due to the different personalities and teaching styles of Joe and Clara Pilates.

Joe was known for his colorful and strong personality, while Clara was more soft spoken and approachable. They both worked with injured clients, and both of their backgrounds and personalities made pilates what it is today- a method promoting both fitness and health.

Joe and Clara taught together for 50 years in NYC. When Joe died, Clara continued teaching the method herself, until she passed the lineage on to their long time student and protoge', Romana Kryzanowska.

Clara's own style of teaching has influenced a variety of teaching styles today. Many teachers towards the West Coast either studied pilates with her or trained under someone who has. The style is a more theraputic version of pilates, more geared towards rehabilitation and creating ease in the body. In pilates workshops for teachers, we are sometimes taught an exercise in its original form created by Joe, and then also taught, "and this was the way Clara taught it".

We don't usually hear much about Clara Pilates, probably because there are few published photos of her and most of the pilates photos are of Joe or of Joe teaching. It was probably not in her nature to be photographed doing the exercises, that was most likely Joe's thing.

Let's thank Clara Pilates, who along with Joe, created the most amazing method of exercise! Read more!

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