Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He was a frail child with serious health problems. As a young man, he became passionate about physical fitness as a way to transform his physical appearance and improve his health. As he grew older, he became an accomplished gymnast, boxer and circus performer, and was also an ardent student of Eastern philosophies such as yoga and karate. He called upon all of his research, study and expertise to create a complete regimen that combined East and West, gymnastic and yogic principles, mental and physical exercises that would strengthen the body and free the mind.