Part biography, part history, and part memoir, “Caged Lion” untangles for the first time Joseph Pilates’s opaque life story and the perilous journey of his exercise program known the world over as Pilates.
This is the story of Joseph Pilates, a gifted man who immigrated to the United States at forty-three with no assets or credentials. He not only invented an exercise regimen—which today is practiced by more than ten million people—but in the process, reinvented himself.
John Howard Steel brings Joseph Pilates and his eponymous exercise regime to life from his unique perspective as a student, friend, and confidant. Joe’s influence profoundly changed Steel’s life; in turn, Steel was crucial for the survival of the Pilates Method and Joe’s legacy. Steel’s vivid account traces the expansion of Pilates from a small cadre of dedicated adherents, through two periods of near extinction, to the global sensation it is today. Steel describes Joseph Pilates’s years as a prisoner during World War I, Joe’s motivation to discover his system of exercises, his inspirational teaching technique, and the unique attraction of the Pilates Method. It’s quite a story.