Joseph Pilates developed the Pilates Method (or simply Pilates) as a physical fitness system in the early 20th century. Pilates called his method “Contrology,” because he believed his method uses the mind to control the muscles.
The methodology was developed during World War I with the proposal to improve the rehabilitation program for the many returning veterans. Pilates believes mental and physical health are essential to one another. He recommended a few, precise movements emphasizing control and form to aid injured soldiers in regaining their health by strengthening, stretching and stabilizing key muscles.
Pilates does not seem to have the spiritual components that some eastern stretching and training programs have. And we have no indication that Joseph Pilates was or was not a Christian. Below is a popular quote from Joseph regarding his program:
“I appeal to those interested in the future welfare of our race, to aid in putting my practical physical education method before the public where it will do the most benefit, and to have them see and test my health producing inventions to the end that mankind can enjoy God’s blessings—health and happiness.”
We do not find negative spiritual teaching in Pilates. If you are considering joining a Pilates gym or class, you can take into consideration the overall atmosphere of the school in the same manner that one would examine the atmosphere of a fitness gym or a tennis club before joining. Believers should ask themselves, “Can I maintain my Christian conduct and be a positive influence on others in this environment, or am I going to be more influenced by the unbelievers around me?” The ultimate goal for believers should be that they are able to be a light of God’s love to those around them.
First Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” As Christians we should put God first in everything we do, and our lives can become an act of living worship to Him. We can worship and think about the goodness of God and His Word while doing many things—even exercising!