Category Archives: English

50 Days of Praise for Joe

Evelyn de la Tour_50 Days of Praise for Joe.png


October 9, 2017, is the 50th anniversary of the death of Joseph Pilates. In hospital, shortly before he died, he is reported to have said: “I’m 50 years ahead of my time.” This sounds incredibly perceptive from today’s point of view. He had such great plans for his method – and I am convinced that it would have made him proud to know that the Pilates method today is being practiced all around the world!

For this anniversary Joseph Pilates has deserved some praise, enthusiasm and standing ovations! This is why I’m starting a series today called “50 Days of Praise for Joe”. I have prepared 50 quotes by clients, people who profited directly from working with him. Each of them had a different relationship to Joseph Pilates, some of them are still famous today – all of them were enthusiastic about Joe Pilates and his method.

Let’s start with a quote by one of his most interesting pupils, Carola Strauss Trier:

Carola Strauss Trier_50 Days of Praise for Joe


One of Joseph Pilates earliest clients was Lothar Danner, chief of Hamburg police in the 1920ies. He went to Joe’s self-defense classes along with his staff and had a very high opinion of his teaching:

Lothar Danner_50 Days of Praise for Joe


The British actress Maud Milton found a funny way to point out how she profited from her workouts with Joseph Pilates:

Maud Milton_50 Days of Praise for Joe


Nat Fleischer, boxing writer and founder of The Ring magazine, met Joe Pilates in Germany. He encouraged him to come to the US, because he was impressed by his work:

Nat Fleischer_50 Days of Praise for Joe


Dancer, choreographer and dance educator Hanya Holm worked closely with Joseph Pilates, sending many of her pupils over to his studio, if they had pain issues or injuries. Dance was Hanya’s life and Joe had saved it, healing her longtime knee injury. So she signed her autograph picture for him like this:

Hanya Holm_50 Days of Praise for Joe

Russian choreographer George Balanchine deeply influenced dance in American when he founded his School of American Ballet. He worked closely with Joseph Pilates and highly valued his method:

George Balanchine_50 Days of Praise for Joe


Ruth St. Denis was the Mother of Modern Dance in the United States and one of Joseph Pilates’ most important supporters. She told everyone about his work, whether they wanted to hear it or not…

Ruth St Denis_50 Days of Praise for Joe


Fashion photographer Gerorge Hoyningen Huene was a client and friend of Joseph Pilates. He also took the pictures for his book “Return to Life through Contrology”:

George Hoyningen Huene_50 Days of Praise for Joe.png


Joe’s client Dorothy Paschal believed in the rejuvenating results of the Pilates method:

Dorothy Paschal_50 Days of Praise for Joe.png

Joe Pilates himself believed in the future success of his method:

Joe Pilates_50 Days of Praise for Joe

Clara Pilates:

Clara Pilates_50 Days of Praise for Joe.png

Ted Shawn, founder of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, admired Joseph Pilates’ work:

Ted Shawn_50 Days of Praise for Joe

Dancer Evelyn de la Tour was also a great admirer of Joseph Pilates and his method:

Evelyn de la Tour_50 Days of Praise for Joe

Strong Women 2 – Romana Kryzanowska

Interview with Cathy Barker Strack, Pilates teacher and biographer of Romana Kryzanowska
Dear Cathy, you have been doing research about the life of Romana Kryzanowska for several years and you are writing a book about her – I’m so excited to be able to talk to you about her!
May I first ask you how you became so interested in Romana’s life? When did you decide to write her biography?
As a Pilates teacher, I was curious about the history of the method. Romana stood out as one of the most significant people still teaching and training at the time. Stories about her teaching are as legendary as those about Joseph Pilates. While there was some information about Joe’s personal life, there was very little about Romana’s life. One of my clients, Carol J. Craig, also became interested in helping me learn more about Romana. Carol has a background in geneaology and she was able to find some interesting information about Romana’s parents and grandparents. Romana’s parents were artists in Detroit and Romana was born in the nearby town of Farmington, Michigan. The fact that it was only a short three hour drive to Michigan to do more research helped us easily learn more information.
It got so we were spending Carols lesson time talking about the things we found out about Romana and her family. Such as the fact that her paternal grandmother was a Baroness, her maternal grandfather owned a buggy and carriage company, and countless stories about the wild adventures of her aunts and uncles on both sides of the family. All these people influenced who Romana came to be as a daughter, mother, teacher, and friend to many around the world. At some point, Carol and I just looked at each other and realized that someone needed to tell Romana’s story. Why not us?! Our next step was to go to Romana’s family and ask permission. They gave their permission and we were off and running. Her story could not be told without their blessing and help. It’s been about 5 or 6 years of research and the past year of writing.
Can you tell us about the first time young ballet dancer Romana met Joseph Pilates?
There hasn’t been much new information to tell really. Romana has told this part of her story so many times. She was dancing in the Balanchine school, had an injured ankle, and he took her to see Joe in order to help her recover. Joe recognized her talent in learning and demonstrating his exercises. Unfortunately, Romana did not fully appreciate the work she was doing at the time. She didn’t want to disappoint her teachers and her mother so she did as she was told. As a idealistic teenager, she saw herself as a dancer, aspiring to greater roles on stage. She just wanted to dance.
Romana developed a passion for the Pilates method and performed the exercises in a wonderful way very quickly. There are great films of her working out in the Pilates studio in the early 1940s. Can you tell us, if it was hard for her to leave, when she decided to go to Peru with her husband Pablo Mejia in 1944? Did she stay in touch with Joe and Clara?
I don’t think it was hard for her to leave. She was young and impulsive. Her mother and step-father introduced her to Pablo Mejia, who was very charismatic and wealthy. He promised her a life of luxury that included opening her own dance studio in Peru. Most of her family gave their blessing and she was off to a better life than she would have had in New York.  
She continued to focus on dance and Pilates was a means to make her dancing better. Because of that I believe they did keep in touch. When she had her children she needed Joe’s help with exercises to help them develop and grow. Her daughter Sari, in particular, had suffered an illness that required Pilates exercises to help her fully recover.
After Romana Kryzanowska returned to the United States in 1958 she soon became a very important figure in the Pilates Studio. Can you tell us more about her role in the studio in this period?
I think at first her role was very subtle. She needed to make a living and support her family. That meant taking jobs teaching ballet and teaching Pilates on the side. At one point she combined the two worlds when Clark Center (for dance) rented space in the Pilates building and she worked for both. Once she returned from Peru, she just never left Pilates again. It was always there for her, the work in her body and the work to earn a living. While her first love was dancing, I don’t think it was as lucrative.  
After Joseph Pilates died in 1967 Romana took over. There is a discussion, if Joseph Pilates saw her as his successor or not. In my opinion he didn’t, although he had been working so closely with her, because she was a woman. What do you think?
One of the interesting pieces of information that I have uncovered in my research is that Joe had many hopes for many different people to take over the studio. And this began happening as early as the late 1930’s. The question isn’t so simple as to who should take over when he died. He really didn’t like city life and had been going to the country regularly. He wanted someone to take over the studio so he could spend more time in the country, where he also wanted to continue to teach, and to train teachers of his method.
He had several nieces, and Clara’s niece Irene, that were all brought to the studio to train and teach; with the hope that they could take over the studio. But alas, they were young and had other ideas. Such as marrying and having families. There were also some of the teachers we know about, such as Hannah, some male dancers and others we may never know, that were considered to take over. I really think that by the time Romana came back from Peru, Joe was able to learn from his mistakes. Specifically that he was more interested in having others take over his studio more than they were interested in actually doing it. Romana was different because she had the interest and the ability. She had had her family and wouldn’t be pulled away like his nieces had been. With this realization, toward the end of his life, Joe had Romana record in writing as much of his work as was possible. She kept those notes and his legacy.
There are many Pilates teachers all around the world who have studied with Romana – and they adore her. What made her such an excellent teacher?
It was her gift, her special talent in life. She was able to combine teaching skills (which she had developed from being a ballet teacher), an innate ability to execute the exercises and an implicit trust in the Pilates method based on her close relationship with Joe and Clara. She also had a healing talent for understanding what each person needed, be it a client or one of the teachers she trained. Romana’s maternal grandmother had this ability. Her grandmother owned a maternity hospital and was the midwife for Romana’s birth. Which brings us back to her family and their importance in her life.  
What was Romana’s most important contribution to the history of the Pilates method? How did she contribute to the enormous success of Pilates?
Her most important contributions are two-fold. First, the world would not know what the Pilates Method is, in it’s purest form, if she hadn’t dedicated her life to teaching it. Second, she instilled in her best teachers that same passion to continue to the work. 
Cathy, thank you so much for taking the time to answer all these questions! I can’t wait to read your book!

About Cathy:

cropped color(1)Cathy Strack began studying the Pilates method in 2001 while working as a Personal Trainer. She became certified in 2003 at White Cloud Studios in Cleveland and is currently enrolled in the Power Pilates Bridge program. She now teaches at BodyMind Balance in Cincinnati. She holds an M.S. in Clinical Psychology and was a mental health counselor in a previous career. Cathy has published the Pilates Pamphlet, a piece of Pilates history, and is writing a biography about Romana Kryzanowska.
To get in touch with Cathy you can email her at

Strong Women 1: Carola Strauss-Trier

Strong Women of the History of the Pilates Method, 1

Carola on Reformer (with permission of Jillian Hessel,

Carola Strauss-Trier was the first person to open a Pilates studio – following Joseph Pilates himself. She has contributed significantly to establish the Pilates method in the field of rehabilitation. The story of her life is just as interesting as the life of Joseph Pilates – but it contains so much suffering and terror that it’s not easy to handle. She was unable to finish her memoirs, because so many of her memories were too painful for her to bear it – and yet: she survived and lived her life and accomplished great things!

Carola was born in 1913 in Frankfurt, Germany. Her father was Eduard Strauß, a professor for chemistry who also taught comparative religious sciences at „Jüdisches Lehrhaus“ a Jewish open university in Frankfurt. Carola grew up in an inspiring intellectual environment – Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig were close friends of the family. She pursued an artistic career and started studying dance at Folkwang school in Essen.

In 1933, shortly before her 20. birthday, the Nazis came to power in Germany. Most dancers supported this “movement” hoping for renewal and new glory for the German nation. Being Jewish this was a tragedy for Carola. During the first two years of Nazi reign she scratched a living by dancing for small entertainment shows and tried most of all not to attract any attention. In 1935 she couldn’t bear it anymore and went to France. Without documents she supported herself as a dancer in nightclubs. Looking for a new career option she became interested in acrobatics. This was how she met Marcel Naydorf, an acrobatics teacher. They fell in love. She developed her own show, dancing on roller-skates. The show was successful and her life seemed to stabilize.

Then World War Two started. The German Wehrmacht invaded France and Carola was interned by the French. From their point of view she was a German, an enemy alien. That she had fled the Nazis didn’t count. From Paris she was sent to the internment camp Gurs. Marcel Naydorf followed her. He was able to supply her with additional food and finally managed to have her released.

The following years were full of anxiety. Carola and Marcel settled in the so called zone libre (“free zone”), the part of France that had not been occupied yet. She waited in despair for a visa for the United States. In June 1942 at last she received it. She was rescued in the last moment: Shortly after she set off on the complicated trip via Algeria and Casablanca to the United States, the “free zone” was raided: several thousand Jews were detained and most of them sent to Auschwitz.

Carola had escaped. But upon her arrival in the United States she was interned again: In Fort Howard near Baltimore she was once more regarded as a potential enemy alien, until her status as a refugee had been proved. Now she was able to start a new life – trying to get over that fact that she had had to leave behind her partner who had not received a visa for the US.

Very soon Carola was back on stage with her skating show – her roller-skates were among the few things she had taken with her on her journey from Europe. In 1944 she had an accident on stage. Dr. Henry Jordan, the specialist for orthopedics who treated her at Lenox Hill Hospital suggested that she should go to Joseph Pilates’ studio for rehabilitation. He was a client himself.

Meeting Joe Pilates for the first time was probably difficult for Carola. After her experiences with the Nazis she certainly wouldn’t have picked a man like Joe with his strong German accent for her rehabilitation. But she trusted her doctor and took it on. She was thrilled! She was fascinated by the efficiency of the Pilates method. She realized that Joseph Pilates had developed an ingenious method for the rehabilitation of dancers. After she had successfully finished her own rehabilitation she stayed a permanent guest of the Pilates studio and observed Joseph Pilates closely, especially when he was working with rehabilitation patients.

Carola also educated herself further regarding the medical side. Dr. Henry Jordan allowed her to observe him treating rehabilitation patients, even during operations, she started working closely with him. Towards the end of the Fifties, after she had learned from Joseph Pilates for more than ten years, she decided to open her own studio. In the meantime she had married Edgar Trier, so she opened her studio as Carola S. Trier.

Her studio was located on 58th street in New York, just two blocks away from Joe’s and Clara’s studio on Eighth Avenue. Her cooperation with Dr. Henry Jordan and William Liebler from Lenox Hill Hospital and her connections to show business brought her many clients from the world of dance. Her firmly managed, up to date studio was different from the original.

Carola Trier’s studio was modern and rather minimalistic while many clients felt like they had gone on a journey back in time when they were entering Joe’s studio. On Eighth Avenue every client was required to take care of his or her own workout – in Carola’s studio you worked one on one. Carola and her assistants prepared the apparatus, gave instructions and feedback. The studio was doing so well that Carola was able to hire several assistants. Big names like Romana Kryzanowska and Kathy Grant used to work for Carola Trier.

Despite these differences Carola and Joe Pilates were resembling each other in many ways. Like him she seemed severe and she also had an explosive temper. Like Joe Pilates she didn’t like it, if people were talking a lot in her studio. And like him she was speaking English with a German accent all her life. Another similarity between the two was their wish to present their work to the public. Carola Trier was doing a successful job regarding public relations. In 1961 Dance Magazine published two articles about her work with dancers. In 1963 she managed to have some of the exercises she had developed herself promoted by Newsweek and Vogue.

In the glossy magazines she had presented exercises she had developed herself, so she didn’t see any necessity to mention the name Joseph Pilates. He didn’t like that and their relationship cooled down during the last years prior to his death.

From today’s perspective it seems clear that Joseph Pilates and his method have benefited immensely by Carola Trier’s work. She run her New York studio successfully until she retired in 1986. Her work in the realm of rehabilitation was the groundwork for the Pilates method to be used in that area. Today the method is established in rehabilitation worldwide and it’s benefits have been proofed by many scientific studies. Carola Trier trained many Pilates teachers, among them some of the most influential master teachers of today’s Pilates world: Lolita San Miguel, Alan Herdman, Deborah Lessen, Jillian Hessel and many more. She’s the role model for a job profile many dancers pursue following their active dancing career: they become Pilates teachers!

More information about Carola Strauss-Trier’s life and work :

Documentary and interviews about Carola on Pilates Anytime

Manuscript of her unfinished memoirs (Leo Baeck Institute)

Jilllian Hessel about her mentors Carola Trier and Kathy Grant in Pilates Style Magazine

Order an reproduction of the wonderful picture of her on the Reformer in Jillian Hessel’s webshop!

100% Tribute to Joseph Pilates

Glaucia Adriana in Mönchengladbach, January 2016

Glaucia, you are one of the producers of the movie “Tribute to Joseph Pilates”. For one year you were touring the world, visiting the most important places of Joe’s life and talking to so many experts of Pilates and Pilates history! Why did you decide to spend so much of your time and energy on a project about Joseph Pilates?

Glaucia: Yes Eva, I’m one the producers alongside with the Voll Group owners, Rafael Juliano and his partners, Henrique Wolf and Vinicius Machado. The idea came from Rafael, during a conversation we were having regarding Pilates and its scenario in the world and how people, even professionals in the field were leaving the roots and the history of the Method behind. I was enchanted by the idea of producing a documentary, but to tell you the truth I never thought it would be so amazingly well done, as it turned out to be. I’m also a studio owner and an educator, and the more I traveled to different countries the more I could see the History being left behind. When you don’t know where you came from, your roots, then you can easily loose track of what makes sense in this work, then you start inventing “new things” and calling it Pilates. I think that getting to know the History, getting to know what Joseph really wanted to accomplish with his Method can help us step back a little and maybe, start thinking twice before calling any movement we invent “Pilates”, but more than that, the general public will definitely be able to fall in love with Pilates, even if they have never had a lesson in life.

You were speaking with so many legends and important people of the Pilates world! Lolita San Miguel, Mary Bowen, Mari Winsor, Elizabeth Larkam, Brooke Siler, Kathi Ross Nash, Ken Endelman – just to mention a few. How did you do that? How did you get access to these busy people?

Glaucia: Well, I’m still thrilled that so many people got on board and trust us enough to be part of this project. It was done in baby steps, I sent each invitation one by one. And the first thing I made sure to tell each of of them is that this movie would not promote brands, schools, approaches or anything else other than Joseph Pilates himself.


Do you remember all the places you visited for the movie? Can you name the most important and maybe tell us why you went there?

Glaucia: I remember, I think I do, the most important ones were NY and Mönchengladbach, no doubt about it. NY because it was the place where I did all my research prior to start the footages, and Mönchengladbach because we had access to all the Archival Material, and amazing details about Joseph’s previous life before immigrating to America. I can’t forget to mention Denver as well, where we were able to film during the PMA Conference, therefore getting to insert many of the big names of the industry in the documentary.

During all your research, travel and interviews: Was there a personal highlight for you? Maybe a moment when you felt especially close to Joseph Pilates?

Glaucia: Wow, that is a very hard question. There were many many moments that I felt this way. But if I need to choose one moment, I would say it was during the interview with John Steel, mainly because he was the only person to really talk about Joe’s death, and to be personally close enough to him, to really describe very interesting facts. I remember that Mary Bowen was also listening to his interview. After we finished his interview, I interviewed Mary Bowen, and he was there during the whole time, also listening to Mary. When I finally finished Mary’s interview, and the crew was getting ready to leave, I stayed there for more than 1 hour, just talking to John, I was not interviewing him anymore, but we kept talking about Joseph for hours to come. But I can’t just ignore the fact that most of the interviews we’ve made changed me personally and professionally in so many ways that I can’t even describe.

From left to right: John Steele, Mary Bowen and Glaucia Adriana at the PMA meeting in Denver

You knew very much about Joseph Pilates and his life already when you started this project. Can you tell us, if you came across information about him that really surprised you?

Glaucia: I thought I knew about him, but after reading the 2 biographies available, and having your biography specially guiding me during this process now I can really say that I know the man behind the Method, not only the eccentric German that immigrated to America to open his first Studio. What really surprised me was his drive to accomplish something, I knew he wanted to be a hit, he wanted his Method to be around the world, but I had never seen how focused he was, how insanely intelligent and clever he was, and mainly his skills for marketing in the 30ies, 40ies …it’s still blowing me away when I start reading his articles. So his drive and sureness that his Method would somehow change the world – that’s what really surprised me.

After you have worked so much for one year (I know that you didn’t get much sleep during the last weeks of editing the movie) – was it worth it? Would you do it again?

Glaucia: It was more than a year actually, we started to organize all the details almost 2 years ago. So there was much work besides the interviews, I mean, I don’t know how we did it, really. It was worthy for sure, I never thought not even in my wildest dreams that the final result would be so good as I think it was. When you do something that you really love, and you put 100% of yourself in it, I think you are ready for everything that comes out of it… meaning, I know there will be criticism, but I’m so happy and thrilled with what we accomplished that critics of any kind can’t reach me, can’t bother me. We did what we did out of passion, and to honor Joseph, and I think we did it well. At least I can speak for myself, I would have done it exactly the same, if I was to start all over again…I would just maybe balance more my life, and sleep a little more during this process.

One last question: During the interviews for the movie you asked every one, what they would say, if they had a chance to speak to Joseph Pilates personally. What about you? Is there anything you would like to say to him or ask him?

Glaucia: You know I did answer this question, the crew made an interview with me, a surprise interview, that was supposed to be inserted in the movie, but I didn’t make my own cut, can you believe it? I didn’t see a reason for me to be in the Movie, not this time, not now, maybe in some DVD with extras in the future. But I can’t even remember what I answered in the interview. But I can tell you that if I had the chance to meet to Joe and talk to him I would ask him so many questions, I would definitely need to spend hours talking to him. First I would thank him! Without even knowing he’s been changing the lives of so many people around the world: Every time a client comes to my studio and leaves feeling better than when he first came in, it’s because of Joe that this has happened. I would ask him, if what he is seeing today, with his Method being taught with so many versions around the world, some very good approaches and others not so good, but if it’s really what he wanted to accomplish with the Method? I would bring him to a Pilates Studio, and ask him: what kind of apparatus would he invent today having all this technology in our favor to built pretty much what we envision to build!

Thank you so much, Glaucia, for your answers! It was great for me to learn more about your experiences during the making of the movie! Thank you for your time and that you gave so much to create this wonderful Tribute to Joseph Pilates! 



Last Friday I was standing in Carolin Dyckhoff’s beautiful candle lit Pilates studio in Aachen, holding a cinnamon roll in one hand and a glass of tea in the other, and I suddenly felt the urge to say „Thank you!“: A big Thanks to all of the wonderful women who invited me to readings and presentations during the last year!

You give me courage! And I need it more than ever right now. Last week a man who lacks every trace of respect for women was elected the new president of the United States. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world of women who put up with everything and attach themselves to machos they consider strong. I want her to be strong and independent. I want her to choose you as role models!

Never in my life have I met so many strong women like in the Pilates world. Enthusiastic teachers who dared to take the step into self-employment and became a studio owner, a businesswoman. You are successful – you took a risk and it was worth it. No wonder: After every reading in a Pilates studio rapt clients approached me to rave about their wonderful studio owner, amazing work-outs, a great atmosphere and about how much they enjoy spending time at this particular place.

I want to thank you for the great job you’re doing every day, and that you show us what women are made of! You give me courage!

I’m starting a new series on my blog about the women who made the Pilates method big. The first post will be about Carola Trier: After Joseph Pilates she was the first person to open a Pilates studio!

Thank you: Bea Eggimann, Britta Brechtefeld, Carolin Dyckhoff, Caroline Schmid, Corina Hengse, Davorka Kulenovic, Elizabeth Abraham, Ge Gurak, Glaucia Adriana, Joanne Cobbe, Kerstin Bredehorn, Kristina Dietrich, Petra Weitzel, Priska Jessberger-Merle, Sabine Blum, Sylvia Klemperer, Ute Weiler, Wiebke Schüssler, Yaelle Penkhoss


Joe’s Photographer: George Hoyningen-Huene

roll up photo hoyningen huene

Doing research about the clients of the Pilates Studio on  8th Avenue in New York was sometimes so intriguing that I kept going astray. Suddenly I realized that I was actually doing research about the biography of a client and had for the moment completely forgotten about Joseph Pilates. In a few instances my meandering unearthed unknown sources about Joseph Pilates…

George Hoyningen-Huene, the photographer who took the pictures for Joe’s book Return to Life through Contrology was one of those who fascinated me the most. The son of an American mother and a Baltic father from an aristocratic family who had held the prestigious position of an equerry for the czar was born in 1900 in St. Petersburg. His path of life led him to Yalta, London, the Caucasus and Paris, to New York and finally to Los Angeles: So in terms of the number of the places of residence he could take on Joseph Pilates!

George Hoyningen-Huene met Joseph Pilates in the latter’s studio on 8th Avenue in New York in the end of the 1930ies. At that time George Hoyningen-Huene was working as a photographer for the American fashion magazine Harpers Bazaar. Before that he had been working in Paris for Vogue.  Now he turned to Joe Pilates, because he needed more strenghth for his work:

One of my handicaps during my photographic sitting was the strain of lifting and moving lights, scenery and props. My collegue the late George Platt Lynes advised me to take a course in Physical Fitness at the gymnasium of Joseph Pilates. Joe’s method struck me as the most reasonable and scientific approach and after a few months I had to have all my clothes altered. Apart from becoming a great friend of Joe’s and his wife Clara, I kept up my studies for five years and in the end we made a motion picture documentary and I photographed his entire routine for his book RETURN TO LIFE. I owe Joe much in the way of moral support, kindness and genuine friendship.

In return Joseph Pilates owed George Hoyningen-Huene not only the  wonderful photography in his book Return to Life Through Contrology, but probably also the fact that the book was published at all. After years of looking for a publisher it finally was released in 1945 by  J.J. Augustin – the same house that had published George Hoyningen-Huene’s illustrated travel books.

When George Hoyningen-Huene left New York City in 1945 he not only terminated his relations with the fashion world – it was also the end of his workouts in the Pilates Studio. He became a photography professor at Art Center School in Los Angeles. But he still had some connections to the world of glamour. As a couselor for colors in the new technicolor motion pictures he collaborated for years with director George Cukor and assisted him in movies featuring Judy Garland, Ava Gardner and many other stars. George Hoyningen Huene died at the age of  68 because of a stroke. He died in 1968, one year after Joe Pilates had died.

A breathtaking life story, isn’t it? Have you heard about George Hoyningen-Huene before? Are you just as fascinated as I am? I’m looking forward to your comments!

Here you find photos by Goerge Hoyningen-Huene:

Fahey Klein Gallery

Staley Wise

Only Old Photography

Clara Pilates and her Christmas trees

Christmas trees in Manhattan (photo: Eva Rincke, 2014)

Doing research for a book you find all these whimsy details that are not exactly relevant for your topic, but you still keep thinking about them. For me one of those is Clara and her Christmas trees.

In Bruce King’s Obituary for Clara Pilates in Dance Magazine I learned that she liked trimming Christmas trees – not only at home but also in the studio.

“Every year she trimmed the Christmas tree in the new studio, continuing the tradition she had established in the old one.”, Bruce King wrote.

This little detail fits very well with how those who were working out in the Pilates studio were remembering Clara: her emphatic way of teaching, her presence, the way she poured oil on troubled water after Joe Pilates’ outbursts in the studio. Of course this woman loved trimming Christmas trees!

For me Bruce King’s memory also brought to light another part of Clara character: her determination. When the studio moved from the old building on 8th Avenue to new premises on 56th street Clara was 89 years old. She almost couldn’t see anymore, walking was very painful. But still she insisted on trimming the Christmas tree herself. A resolute old Lady!

Probably the story came to my head just now, because there are two little Christmas-tree-trimmers bustling about in our flat. My kids are much younger than Clara in the 1970ies, but they are just as determined about taking on the tree and preparing the world for Christmas, no matter what. Wait a few days? No, please Mom, let’s start NOW! I won’t be able to keep them back much longer. Then we’re going to take the tree inside to the living room and start trimming away! Nothing’s gonna stop us, we’re just like Clara!

A wonderful Christmas for all of you – with or without a tree! And above all: a Healthy and Happy New Year!



Happy Birthday, Joe!

Geburtshaus Joseph Pilates
Birthplace of Joseph Pilates in Mönchengladbach. Picture was taken by S. Grootenhuis

Today it’s 132 years since Joseph Pilates was born in Mönchengladbach, December 9, 1883. At 3:30 am on a Sunday he saw the light of day – and there was not much evidence indicating that his name would be known throughout the world more than a century later.

The circumstances of the infant’s family were humble: his father Friedrich Pilates was a metal worker, his mother Helena was a housewife and former factory worker. They could not afford any comfort or an easy life for their children, but Joseph’s father gave his son something really precious: his enthusiasm for gymnastics, boxing and heavy athletics.

Joseph grew up and did a job training as a brewer – while his passion was reserved for the body and movement. His internment as a civilian during the First World War which brought him to Knockaloe on the Isle of Man, finally made it possible for him to spend all his time pursuing his passion.

Back in Germany he founded a boxing gym in Gelsenkirchen, then he moved to Hamburg where he was teaching self-defense-training to police men of Ordnungspolizei and worked in rehabilitation. In 1926 he emigrated to the United States where one year later he opened his studio for body contrology in Manhattan. He ran it successfully for forty years!

Joseph Pilates was convinced that developing his method he had found a way to make people happier: „Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness“, he wrote in his book Return to Life through Contrology. Today many people share his opinion. Several millions of people practice Pilates all around the globe!

That’s a reason to celebrate! Thank you so much for everything, Joseph Pilates! Happy Birthday!

If you would like to find out more about the life of Joseph Pilates, have a look at the English excerpt of my book! Excerpt Eva Rincke – Biography of Joseph Pilates_First Chapter

Who influenced Joe Pilates?

Have a look at my new post on! Marjolein van Sonsbeek asked about whether people like Sebastian Kneipp, Bess Mensendieck and Rudolf Steiner influenced Joseph Pilates. I am convinced that Bess Mensendieck influenced him a lot! She was a doctor and one of the most interesting characters of German body culture around 1900.

Read more on!

Bess Mensendieck-001
From: Bess Mensendieck, Körperkultur des Weibes, Munich 1906


Question me!

Since my biography of Joseph Pilates has been published by Herder-Verlag in September, people keep asking questions about historical details of Joseph Pilates’ life. There are many tales about him that I don’t mention in my book. When Marjolein van Sonsbeek asked me, if I would like to blog on, I decided to take advantage of this opportunity: From now on I will be answering one of these interesting questions every week.

The first post is dealing with the question: Did Joseph Pilates suffer from asthma?

Please read my post and tell me whether you agree or not! I’m looking forward to a lively discussion! I also want to invite you to ask your own questions: via comment, on Facebook or just email me  at