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My Top 10 Joseph Pilates Quotes

  • on April 18, 2019
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  • in Pilates
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We have talked about the benefits of Pilates in earlier blog posts, but did you know  how much of a thinker Joseph Pilates was?

He may be best known today for his exercises, but right up until his death in 1967 he was also an influential – and much quoted – thinker.  Many of his quotes have been used on inspirational posters, cards and much more.

“I’m fifty years ahead of my time,” he once said with confidence.


These are some of my favourite quotes, truly it took me an age to choose 10…only 10.

“A man is as young as his spinal column.”

The spine, for Joseph Pilates, was the key to physical and emotional well being. Neutral spine alignment is everything.

“If your spine is stiff at 30,” he once said, “you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”

Pilates develops the deep muscles of the back and abdomen to support your spine, and focuses on breathing to promote better posture.


“We retire too early and we die too young. Our prime of life should be in the 70’s and old age should not come until we are almost 100.”

Practising what he preached, Joseph Pilates exercised almost right up until his death at 83

(his perfect posture no match for a 15-a-day cigar habit!).

The longer we live, he believed, the more opportunity we have to improve our health


“Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.”

Pilates teaches various breathing techniques to enhance relaxation, lower blood pressure, and to activate specific muscles that help improve posture.

Joseph Pilates believed that focusing on breathing was vital. “It is tragically deplorable,” he once said, “to contemplate the millions who have never mastered the art of correct breathing.


“Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.”

Pilates is not just about great posture and a rock-hard core. It is more than just a physical exercise, and can radically enhance mental, emotional and spiritual well being too


“Civilisation impairs physical fitness.”

Modern life – doubled up over screens, bent over desks, stressing about deadlines – takes a considerable toll on posture. And as a result, the effect it has on our physical, spiritual and emotional well being.

Pilates actually reverses our natural physical decline and nearly 40 years after Joseph Pilates’ death, his methods still offer a potent antidote to 21st civilisation’s sedentary, screen-fixated ways.


“Through the Pilates Method of Body Conditioning this unique trinity of a balanced body, mind and spirit can ever be attained. Self-confidence follows.”

The benefits of Pilates are far-reaching. Through the development and maintenance of the entire system of body, mind and spirit, practitioners of Pilates are able – both literally and figuratively – to walk taller


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

Although Joseph Pilates did not entirely dismiss the aerobics boom in 60’s America, he nevertheless maintained that his methods offered a more targeted and efficient route to physical and emotional well being.

With a deliberate nod to the relatively mindless routines offered by aerobics, he once said: “Pilates is not a fatiguing system of dull, boring, abhorred exercises repeated daily ‘ad-nauseam’.


“The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.”

It may feel as if the whole world is doing Pilates today, but when Joseph Pilates opened his fitness studio in 1920’s New York (in the same building as the New York City Ballet), his teachings were known only to a rarefied few, most of them ballerinas.

It is testament to both Joseph Pilates’ energy, and to the efficacy of his methods themselves, that Pilates is now practised by more than 10 million Americans and millions more in countries across the globe.


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

Joseph Pilates believed that although we start life in good physical and emotional shape, modern life has a way of eroding our health.

It is vital, he believed, that we address questions of posture and breathing in order to halt – and even reverse – that decline.


“You will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions.”

Joseph Pilates was living proof of the rapid transformative potential of his methods. Suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever as a child, Pilates transformed himself through a combination of weights, yoga, gymnastics and martial arts into a 14 year old who was fit enough to pose for anatomical charts.



I’ve become  increasing aware that I am a Pilates Geek!!  It can’t be helped, I swear, it’ll happen to you to.

Researching this piece, has motivated and inspired me, I am unabashed………I  love Pilates.


Sarah x