Pilates matwork exercises develops all the muscles in the human body. Joseph Pilates' Return to Life

Joseph Pilates' Return to Life

Joseph Pilates in his second booklet called Return to Life wrote on a number of different topics.

He never referred to his exercises as Pilates, mentioned wellness nor mind-body exercise. Yet, anybody remotely familiar with these concepts should be able to realize just how much Pilates was ahead of his time when he wrote about these topics in this booklet in only 20 pages. He simply lumped them all into one topic: Contrology.

Joseph Pilates:

  • Comments a lot on the Western concept of stress as a natural byproduct of modern life.
  • Knocks the value of walking as exercise because it uses only a limited number of muscles.
  • Gives his opinion on why most people lack energy.
  • Talks about the benefits of physical fitness.
  • Writes about functional exercise.
  • Comments on the value of flexibility.
  • Points out the value of Patience and Persistence.
  • Comments on promoting blood circulation.
  • Talks about excess weight and the importance of seeing a physician every 3 months for a health examination for those over 40.
  • Claims that his matwork exercises uniformly develops all the muscles in the human body better than any other form of physical culture.
  • Points out that all of his matwork exercises are performed lying down.
  • Writes extensively about correct breathing techniques.
  • The only thing that he really says about diet is that your caloric input should match your activity level. Claims that proper food, sleep and relaxation are also important. That without them Contrology wont work.

The first part of the booklet starts out by talking about his thoughts on stress, Contrology or Pilates Matwork, and his concept of the mind-body connection. But, without a doubt the major part of this booklet covers his matwork exercises, in 60+ pages. Most people interested practicing Pilates will want to buy this booklet, see ordering information below, for Pilates' original matwork exercise instructions.

The major problem with the writings of Pilates is that they often cannot be quoted directly. They must be paraphrased since he wrote before his time and used different terminology from what is commonly used today. His use of language was often wordy and cumbersome.


  • "Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness."
  • "If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young."
  • "The acquirement and enjoyment of physical well-being, mental calm and spiritual peace are priceless to their possessors."
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Joseph Pilates' Return to Life Comments:


  • Return to Life Through Contrology, Published by Jospeh Pilates and William John Miller, 1945.

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