He was born in 1880 Hamburg. He was a sickly child, so he decided to do something against it. First he compiled exercises for the policemen of Hamburg.
He got to know yoga already in 1920, which was very rare at that time. During the war he was in England where he taught wounded patients exercises to help their recovery. The iron beds and springs in the hospitals gave him the idea to develop the basic Pilates machines.
His career continued later in New York, where he taught leading sportsmen and professional dancers, as the special effectiveness of his exercise series became quickly recognized. With the help of the 500 different types of exercises developed by Pilates they could quickly bring their bodies into shape, protect them from injuries, or recover from injuries.