Whether it is because all things "retro" are destined to become new, or humans are forever in search of the ultimate exercise regimen, or actors and athletes alike are proclaiming its virtues, Pilates is hot. It's in. It's it. It's the new thing. Actually, given that this fitness program was developed almost a century ago, it's the new old thing.

  • Pilates (pronounced puh-LAH-teez) is a form of exercise and body conditioning developed by Joseph Pilates, who was born in Germany in 1880. As a child, Pilates contended with various diseases including asthma and rickets, a condition characterized by abnormal bone formation. A determination to overcome physical limitations through physical fitness sparked his interest in creating an exercise program that was engaging and refreshing and that left the body invigorated rather than exhausted. In doing so, he drew on personal studies from a range of "mind/body" disciplines including body building, gymnastics and skiing, in addition to yoga and Zen meditation.
  • Pilates wanted to create a form of exercise that could build strength and improve flexibility. In the 1920s, after he opened a fitness studio in New York City, some of his most devoted clients were prominent dancers. But his clients also included actors and athletes.
  • Pilates never put his ideas down on paper to create an exercise instruction manual; rather the regimen was kept alive by disciples, some of whom developed their own interpretation of the method. So what remains today is largely that - various interpretations of the Pilates exercise approach.