Joseph Pilates

“Make a close study of each exercise and do not attempt any other exercise until you first have mastered the current one and know its routine down to the last detail without any reference to the text.” -Joseph H. Pilates, Return to Life

Jospeh Pilates teaching hundreds
Jospeh Pilates teaching hundreds

How Pilates Began

Joe went to England in 1912, where he worked as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. At the outbreak of World War I, Joe was interned as an “enemy alien” with other German nationals. During his internment, Joe refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. He rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joe’s trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system.

After his release, Joe returned to Germany. His exercise method gained favor in the dance community, primarily through Rudolf von Laban, who created the form of dance notation most widely used today. Hanya Holm adopted many of Joe’s exercises for her modern dance curriculum, and they are still part of the “Holm Technique.” When German officials asked Joe to teach his fitness system to the army, he decided to leave Germany for good.

The Pilates movement gains in popularity – from Europe to the U.S.

In 1926, Joe emigrated to the United States. During the voyage he met Clara, whom he later married. Joe and Clara opened a fitness studio in New York, sharing an address with the New York City Ballet.By the early 1960s, Joe and Clara could count among their clients many New York dancers. George Balanchine studied “at Joe’s,” as he called it, and also invited Pilates to instruct his young ballerinas at the New York City Ballet.

“Pilates” was becoming popular outside of New York as well. As the New York Herald Tribune noted in 1964, “in dance classes around the United States, hundreds of young students limber up daily with an exercise they know as a pilates, without knowing that the word has a capital P, and a living, right-breathing namesake.”

His students begin to teach

While Joe was still alive, only two of his students, Carola Trier and Bob Seed, are known to have opened their own studios. Trier, who had an extensive dance background, found her way to the United States by becoming a performing contortionist, after fleeing a Nazi holding camp in France. She found Joe Pilates in 1940, when a non-stage injury pre-empted her performing career. Joe Pilates assisted Trier in opening her own studio in the late 1950s. Joe and Clara remained close friends with Trier until their deaths.

Bob Seed was another story. A former hockey player turned “Pilates” enthusiast, Seed opened a studio across town from Joe and tried to take away some of Joe’s clients by opening very early in the morning. According to John Steel, one day Joe visited Seed with a gun and warned Seed to get out of town. Seed went.

The second generation of Pilates teachers

When Joe passed away in 1967, he left no will and had designated no line of succession for the “Pilates” work to carry on. Nevertheless, his work would remain. Clara continued to operate what was known as the “Pilates” Studio on Eighth Avenue in New York, where Romana Kryzanowska became the director around 1970. Kryzanowska had studied with Joe and Clara in the early 1940s and then, after a 15-year hiatus spent in Peru, returned to renew her studies.

Jospeh pilates and his creations

Several students of Joe and Clara went on to open their own studios. Ron Fletcher was a Martha Graham dancer who studied and consulted with Joe from the 1940s on, in connection with a chronic knee ailment. Fletcher opened his studio in Los Angeles in 1970 and attracted many Hollywood stars. Clara was particularly enamored with Ron and she gave her blessing to him to carry on the “Pilates” work and name.

Like Carola Trier, Fletcher brought some innovations and advancements to the “Pilates” work. His evolving variations on “Pilates” were inspired both by his years as a Martha Graham dancer and by another mentor, Yeichi Imura.

Kathy Grant and Lolita San Miguel were also students of Joe and Clara who became teachers. Grant took over the direction at the Bendel’s studio in 1972, while San Miguel went on to teach Pilates at Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1967, just before Joe’s death, both Grant and San Miguel were awarded degrees by the State University of New York to teach “Pilates.” These two are believed to be the only “Pilates” practitioners ever certified officially by Joe.

Other students of Joe and Clara who opened their own studios include Eve Gentry, Bruce King, Mary Bowen and Robert Fitzgerald. Eve Gentry, a dancer who taught at the Pilates Studio in New York from 1938 through 1968, also taught “Pilates” in the early 1960s at New York University’s Theater Department. After leaving New York, she opened her own studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A charter faculty member of the High School for the Performing Arts, Gentry was also a co-founder of the Dance Notation Bureau. In 1979, she was given the “Pioneer of Modern Dance Award” by Bennington College.

Bruce King trained for many years with Joseph and Clara Pilates and was a member of the Merce Cunningham Company, Alwyn Nikolais Company, and his own Bruce King Dance Company. In the mid-1970s King opened his own studio at 160 W. 73rd Street in New York City.
Mary Bowen, a Jungian analyst who studied with Joe in the mid-1960s, began teaching Pilates in 1975 and founded “Your Own Gym” in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Robert Fitzgerald opened his studio on West 56th Street in the 1960s, where he had a large clientele from the dance community.

Joe continued to train clients at his studio until his death in 1967, at the age of 87. In the 1970s, Hollywood celebrities discovered Pilates via Ron Fletcher’s studio in Beverly Hills.
Where the stars go, the media follows. In the late 1980s, the media began to cover Pilates extensively.

The public took note, and the Pilates business boomed. “I’m fifty years ahead of my time,” Joe once claimed. He was right. No longer the workout of the elite, Pilates has entered the fitness mainstream. Today, over 10 million Americans practice Pilates, and the numbers continue to grow.

Joseph Pilates teaching on the reformer
Joseph Pilates teaching on the reformer

Testimonial by Bruna Green-thank you

My story and my climb in Pilates
Bruna Green
I was born in 1952 in a beautiful Medieval Village in Italy and I’m grateful to my parents that they decided to immigrate to South Africa cause if we had stayed in Italy, I doubt my life would have been enriched with Pilates.
When I was in my twenties I had my first child, I found a part time job and Jane Fonda became MY exercise guru , I proudly bought her record and my exercise regime started, every morning I would get up and before going to work I would exercise to her energetic voice and music and that is where my climb to exercising started.
That went on for at least 4 years and when I had my second child, I decided that I needed to move on and went to Yoga, a lovely teacher, a full class and very little attention was given to correcting the body so I swung my legs and arms in all sorts of directions but carried on loving my class and loving the meditation.
From there, the gyms became big fashion and I would attend their group exercise programmes, chat with all my friends while doing, stepping classes, sweat classes, dance classes, cycling and rowing programmes and after the workout, my friends and I would have energy drinks at the Health Bar buy the latest gym clothes and get ready for the next morning’s fashion parade. I was never looked at or corrected by any gym instructor, we were at least 40 people in a class.
Once that phase of my life was over, I decided that I needed to walk and that walking was good for me, so I challenged myself to walking up and down the hills and streets of Muckleneuk and Groenkloof in Pretoria and I also joined Walk for Life, enjoyed this form of exercise for many years.
At the age of 50 I decided that I’d had enough of exercising and stopped completely for 6 years, silly me but maybe just as well, because by that time I had been exercising incorrectly for 30 years, my back was always sore, my neck was aching and I was generally in bad shape, physically and mentally I needed a new challenge.
Because of my Daughter’s career path I was inspired to start doing Pilates under her tutelage and under her guidance and love and professionalism.
Pilates is in my Life and my World and body changed
My first year at Body synergy was a year of muscle growth and a year of realisation that for 40 years I had been training my body incorrectly, my core muscles had been sleeping and the few muscles that were working, were working incorrectly.
Core, lats, neck, arms, core, core, lats, lats…. New vocab in my life
I have become a new Me, I can (after 4 years) finally connect with my core, I can do a Pilates push up, I can finally work with my lats and I am aware of my muscles all the time, when I read, when I stand, I keep connecting.
My body has changed, my bone density tests have come back with excellent results.
My floor muscles have strengthened to the point that they don’t need to be repaired.
I feel strong and I’m looking forward to getting stronger, Pilates is definitely in my life to stay.
Like minded ladies that I have met in my Pilates classes, Libbie, Tessa, Lindie, thank you for being my partners and for loving Pilates @ Body Synergy as much as I do.
I owe my strong healthy body to the Pilates Team @ Body Synergy who does so much for so many and to my beautiful daughter Linda, who is my inspiration my coach and my mentor.
Bruna Green

Our Instructors

Linda Dent

Linda Dent pilates instructor
Linda Dent

I danced from the age of 5, all my mind and body has ever known is movement. Having danced professionally as a principle contemporary dancer for and Mzansi Dance Company, I realized that after many injuries, Pilates would be the most natural bridging dance I would perform, giving me longevity in a career and a business, which is my pride and joy.

When I discovered Pilates, I was rehabilitating many injuries, It taught me how to push my body beyond its comfort zone, I could feel every muscle in my body begin to stabilize and perform with ease as my entire body strengthened to a whole new level. Pilates was my rehabilitation haven and in that moment I knew my next calling was exactly this.

I began teaching at various Pilates studios over a period of 4 years and successfully completed my Fully Comprehensive Pilates Course through Pilates SA and a mat course through Equilibrium. I then proudly opened my own fully equipped studio in Pretoria in 2007 called Body Synergy Studio, we are accredited through the South African Pilates Educators and Professional Alliance.

Having attended all Body Arts and Science Pilates Symposiums from 2007-2012 and the Mentorship Programme 2012, with Master trainer and founder of Body Arts and Science International, Rael Isacowitz, my work is current, up to date and exciting.

The biggest learning experience and knowledge that I have gained has been through working with my amazing clients, who bring so much joy and job satisfaction to my space.
I’m interested in taking you on a journey, a path of discovery.

Manet Badenhorst

I started practicing Pilates in 2007 and I became hooked on this wonderful method, which tones your body, changes your shape, balances out imbalances and leaves you feeling wonderful.

I did my Pilates course in 2009, first with the intention of instructing in a part-time capacity but after 6 months, I decided to pursue this as a full-time occupation.


Manet Badenhorst Pilates Instructor
Manet Badenhorst

The most fulfillment I get from instructing Pilates comes from the results people get.

Clients do Pilates for a wide range of reasons, which can range from pain management, musculoskeletal rehabilitation, and an improvement in general health, changing the shape of the one’s body, and improving quality of life.

Every single person finds not only the results they are aiming for, but also experiences an emotional and physical joy.

Pilates is so versatile that it is suitable for people of all ages, gender types and body types.

Lynette Plescia


Lynette Plescia Pilates instructor
Lynette Plescia

My background is ballet and dance and after teaching ballet for many years I moved to the UK in 2000. My love of movement led me to Pilates and I studied and trained in London under both the Pilates Institute and Polestar.

I was an instructor for the Holmes Place gym group (now Virgin Active) for 2 years and then moved on to open my own studio in London’s Notting Hill where I taught for 8 years.

I truly have a passion for Pilates and the benefits it brings to the body and the mind. Pilates is life changing, I am experiencing the benefits every day and want to show everyone how it can change their lives as well!

I love that no matter what your current level of fitness is it will always challenge your ability and keep improving you, as it does with me. I keep learning from every person I’m blessed to work with.
I also believe strongly that synergy of Yoga and Pilates complement each other beautifully and as such I decided to study Yoga which I feel only adds to the holistic approach of this way of life. I qualified as a Sivananda Yoga teacher in Austria in 2007.

I invite you to come and breath and stretch with me to a stronger, more flexible, healthy happy body.

Pilates warm-up

A beautifully explained roll down
The fundamental basics of warming up in mat a class


Body Worlds Exhibition- The Cycle of Life

BODY WORLDS is the original anatomical exhibition series displaying authentic human bodies, willed by donors through the Institute for Plastination’s Body Donor Program, and preserved using a process called plastination. Invented by Dr. von Hagens, plastination is a groundbreaking process in which real human specimens are preserved through the science of plastination. The specimens resulting from the revolutionary process are called plastinates. Plastinates show the inner workings of the body and the striking whole-body specimens show the human body in real-life poses, like never seen before. ”

Dr Gunther von Hagens
Dr GuntherVon Hagens

Walking into the exhibition at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, I was unsure as to what I was about to discover, if I had known, I probably would have gone 5 consecutive days in a row, but as this was our last day there, I would just accept the one viewing and do my utmost best to absorb every bit of information provided.

The start of the exhibit began with the fetal development from the size of a tiny seed and through glass jars one could see the growth of the human being from conception… mind blowing as when I stopped and looked around me, all I could see was human beings that were once that size.

I love the way in which the exhibit evolved from the conception to the bones, ligaments, tendons,muscles, bodies and in each of these sections they described and showed sicknesses, diseases or problems that could arise in the area. For example: One section of a perfectly sliced bone beautiful and strong, and the other cross section, a bone with osteoporosis, brittle, failing and disintegrating.

Dr Gunther von Hagens
Dr Gunther von Hagens

I was honestly like a kid with a new toy, the best toy I could find. Finally I had true insight into the human body, I wanted all my clients to be there with me so I could show them what I had been referring to.

The human body is a vessel and it’s magic is what intrigues me, it learns, it improves and still it functions without thought. A true marvel, I will go as far as to say that if you are not interested in your own body, you are ignorant and pathetic.

During this stage in my life, my husband and I are being extremely healthy, we exercise, we sleep 7-8 hours a night, we eat healthy and we have cut out our nightly chocolates and sweets which has been really tough. Sometimes we get a little despondent but after this viewing this incredible exhibition, we knew what we were doing was the only way forward.

There was a room full of pictures, no bodies, no plastination just pictures and quotes, which touched us, old people, still exercising ( an old man jumping into a pool for his daily swim), still eating (old lady cooking herself a healthy meal) and still happy (someone old man sleeping). The point of the entire exhibition was actually to highlight the importance of just this- Eat healthy, sleep 7-8hours and exercise! The 3 secrets to life to living the cycle of your life in the best possibly way.

The most fascinating viewing, true art for me, was that of the blood vessels, master works, one of a  hare made entirely of blood vessels, the blood vessels hold the shape to the animal so there before you is a rabbit. shaped, perfectly from beginning to end… the human hand was just breath taking. I remember looking down at my hand and marvelling, so many blood vessels, moving my blood around, keeping my hand mobile, active, energized… alive!

Dr Gunther von Hagens - hare
Blood vessels of a hare

The incredible Dr. von Hagens has done such a brilliant job, sharing his works with us. I’m truly grateful for all the he and his team has done to give us an exhibition like this.
I highly recommend that wherever you are in the world, if you stumble across one of his exhibitions, don’t even hesitate, go and discover and enjoy the beauty of the human body.

Testimonial from Thuli


Testimonial from Steven Green


NEW … 30min Xpress Pilates Mat Class

We live these busy lives that are controlled by time. We find no time to exercise and therefore become weaker in our bodies, feel bad postural habits coming into play, we struggle to keep up with the demands of being on the go, and we are more stressed and therefor are not working at our optimum.
Our New 30minute Xpress Pilates Mat Class is designed specifically for:
·         Parents on the go
·         Business men and women
·         People who only have 30minutes to exercise
·         People who only have an hours lunch break
In 30min you will have the opportunity to target your entire body for top to bottom and still see and feel the benefits of Pilates.
Days:              Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
Times:             12h30-13h00
Cost:              R50
Bookings essential

Combating Obesity

Obesity is the number one issue affecting health and well-being at the moment. The fight against obesity, starts in the home as a family. As parents, we need to walk a fine line between helping our kids get to a healthy weight while continuing to support their emotional needs. Here are some tips to make sure of a sensitive approach:

1.Talk to your kids about what is happening

Open communication is very important throughout the entire weight-loss (get-healthy!) process. Let your kids know that losing weight is not always easy and that you are they to support them.

2. Make sure they know your love is unconditional.

Remember the reason you are concerned with your child’s weight is for their health. That really needs to be communicated to your child.

3.Teach your children to like what they see in the mirror.

Focus on their great legs or strong arms. Remind them that their bodies have many wonderful attributes.

4. Help them lose their inner negative voice.

We all have that little voice in our heads telling us that everything we do is wrong: “You shouldn’t have eaten that…” “Why didn’t you go to the gym today?” This voice makes us feel worthless. When that voice arises, tell your kids to tell the voice to shut up!

5. Make use of this opportunity to bring the family together.

Studies have shown that a healthy family relationship improves our well-being.
Exercise together and Eat healthy meals at the same table.

6. Join a Pilates class and exercise.

Exercise releases endorphines which is the “feel good” hormone. Not only will you feel better, but as you continue to exercise you will feel more energetic, stronger and loose weight quicker.

Call us today and make the difference