50 Joseph Pilates Quotes From the Founder of The Fitness Class


These Joseph Pilates quotes about the spine, breathing, and overall wellbeing prove just how passionate he was about people’s health.

Pilates is a group exercise class offered at many gyms, and it might seem like everyone you know is a Pilates addict, or at the very least, has tried a class. However, it’s much more than just the latest fitness craze. In fact, it isn’t even a new trend! It has been around since the 1920s when Joseph and Clara Pilates opened their ‘Body Conditioning Gym’ in New York City.

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. We know little about his early life, except that he appears to have been a sickly child. He suffered from asthma attacks, rickets, and rheumatic fever.

His drive and determination to overcome these ailments fed his passion for physical health and he became a skilled gymnast, diver, and skier. Before he became the father of Pilates, he worked as an English circus performer, boxer, and self-defense instructor.

Don’t forget to also check out these fitness quotes to get you started.

Best Joseph Pilates quotes about the spine, posture, and wellbeing

1. “A man is as young as his spinal column.” — Joseph Pilates

2. “Never slouch, as doing so compresses the lungs, overcrowds other vital organs, rounds the back, and throws you off balance.” — Joseph Pilates

3. “You are only as young as you as your spine is flexible.” — Joseph Pilates

4. “If your spring is inflexibly stiff at 30, you’re old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” — Joseph Pilates

5. “Because of poor posture, practically 95% of our population suffers from varying degrees of spinal curvature, not to mention more serious ailments.” — Joseph Pilates

6. “Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control.” — Joseph Pilates

7. “Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.” — Joseph Pilates

8. “The acquirement and enjoyment of physical well-being, mental calm, and spiritual peace are priceless to their possessors.” — Joseph Pilates

9. “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” — Joseph Pilates

10. “Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.” — Joseph Pilates

11. “Man should develop his physical condition simultaneously with that of his mind.” — Joseph Pilates

12. “Civilization impairs physical fitness.” — Joseph Pilates

Famous Joseph Pilates quotes on breathing and the lungs

13. “Above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” — Joseph Pilates

14. “Breathing is the first act of life and the last.” — Joseph Pilates

15. “Lazy breathing converts the lungs, literally and figuratively speaking, into a cemetery for the deposition of diseased, dying, and dead germs as well as supplying an ideal haven for the multiplication of other harmful germs.” — Joseph Pilates

16. “The lungs cannot be completely deflated at first without considerable effort. With perseverance, however, the desired results can be accomplished and with increasing power, gradually and progressively develop the lungs to their maximum capacity.” — Joseph Pilates

17. “By all means, never fail to get all the sunshine and fresh air you can.” — Joseph Pilates

18. “Before any real benefit can be derived from physical exercises, one must first learn how to breathe properly. Our very life depends on it.” — Joseph Pilates

19. “You must squeeze every atom of impure air from the lungs until they are almost as free of air as a vacuum.” — Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates quotes about muscles and the mind

20. “The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.” — Joseph Pilates

21. “It’s the mind itself which shapes the body.” — Joseph Pilates

22. “The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy.” — Joseph Pilates

23. “With body, mind, and spirit functioning perfectly as a coordinated whole, what else could reasonably be expected other than an active, alert, disciplined person?” — Joseph Pilates

24. “The man who uses intelligence with respect to his diet, his sleeping habits, and who exercises properly, is beyond any question of doubt taking the very best preventive medicines provided so freely and abundantly by nature.” — Joseph Pilates

25. “When all your muscles are properly developed, you will, as a matter of course, perform your work with minimum effort and maximum pleasure.” — Joseph Pilates

26. “To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life, we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limits of our ability.” — Joseph Pilates

27. “Ideally, our muscles should obey our will. Reasonably, our will should not be dominated by the reflex actions of our muscles.” — Joseph Pilates

28. “By exercising your stomach muscles, you wring out the body; you don’t catch colds; you don’t get cancer; you don’t get hernias. Do animals get hernias? Do animals go on diets?” — Joseph Pilates

29. “True flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.” — Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates quotes and sayings to inspire your workout

30. “Change happens through movement, and movement heals.” — Joseph Pilates

31. “Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only to attain it but to maintain it.” — Joseph Pilates

32. “Time and progress are synonymous terms—nothing can stop either. Truth will prevail, and that is why I know that my teachings will reach the masses and finally be adopted as universal.” — Joseph Pilates

33. “Everyone is the architect of their own happiness.” — Joseph Pilates

34. “A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.” — Joseph Pilates

35. “It is better to be tired from physical exertion than to be fatigued by the ‘poisons’ generated by nervousness while lying awake.” — Joseph Pilates

36. “Every moment of our life can be the beginning of great things.” — Joseph Pilates

37. “True flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.” — Joseph Pilates

38. “Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits. Correctly executed and mastered to the point of subconscious reaction, these exercises will reflect grace and balance in your routine activities.” — Joseph Pilates

39. “Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” — Joseph Pilates

40. “In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 you’ll see the difference, and in 30 you’ll have a new body.” — Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates quotes on Contrology (Pilates)

41. “Contrology is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work.” — Joseph Pilates

42. “Contrology (Pilates) is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.” — Joseph Pilates

43. “Through Contrology, you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body, and then through proper repetition of its exercises, you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities.” — Joseph Pilates

44. “Self-confidence, poise, consciousness of possessing the power to accomplish our desires, with renewed lively interest in life are the natural results of the practice of Contrology [Pilates].” — Joseph Pilates

45. “Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.” — Joseph Pilates

46. “This is the equivalent of an “internal shower”. As the spring freshness born of the heavy rains and vast masses of melting snows on mountains in the hinterlands cause rivers to swell and rush turbulently onward to the sea, so too will your blood flow with renewed vigor as the direct result of your faithfully performing the Contrology exercises.” — Joseph Pilates

47. “The science of Contrology disproves that prevalent and all-too-trite saying; ‘You’re only as old as you feel.’” — Joseph Pilates

48. “The art of Contrology proves that the only real guide to your true age lies not in years or how you THINK you feel, but as you ACTUALLY are as infallibly indicated by the degree of natural and normal flexibility enjoyed by your spine throughout life.” — Joseph Pilates

49. “It is the ideal to strive for, and in our opinion, it is only through Contrology that this unique trinity of a balanced body, mind, and spirit can ever be attained.” — Joseph Pilates

50. “Contrology is not a system of haphazard exercises designed to produce only bulging muscles. … Nor does Contrology err either by over-developed a few muscles at the expense of all others with resulting loss of grace and suppleness, or a sacrifice of the heart or lungs. Rather, it was conceived to limber and stretch muscles and ligaments so that your body will be as supple as that of a cat and not muscular like that of the body of a brewery-truck horse, or the muscle-bound body of the professional weight lifter you so much admire at the circus.” — Joseph Pilates

What did you learn from these Joseph Pilates quotes?

During the First World War, he was interned with other German nationals where he developed his technique of physical fitness further, teaching his techniques to other internees. Later in the War, he was an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man. He worked with many patients who could not walk.

He began attaching bed springs to the hospital beds, providing support for their limbs. This was the early design that led to him developing his infamous piece of equipment known as the ‘Cadillac’. His design has undergone some slight adaptations but is still in use today!

The original studio, opened by the Pilates, became very popular, especially with the dance community. Because of the focus on stretching and flexibility, it helped improve the dancer’s technique and reduced injuries. Interestingly, 60% of the clientele were men, whereas if you go to a Pilates class now, there are often more females than males present.

In 1932 Pilates published a booklet called ‘Your Health.’ He soon wrote another called “Return to Life Through Contrology’ (the original name of the method) in 1945. Through these writings and his students, his method was passed on after his death in 1967, when it became known as Pilates.

What did you learn from these Joseph Pilates quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.



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