Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in 1883 near Düsseldorf. His childhood was plagued by illness, and this made him determined to get his health problems under control. To do so, he dedicated his years as an adolescent and young man to physical exercise. He did gymnastics, went skiing, and also studied far eastern methods like yoga and Zen meditation. After moving to England, he earned a living as a boxer and an acrobat. While interned as a prisoner during World War One, he trained to be a nurse and, from this, derived practical ideas that formed the basics of his method. The patients learned to carry out movements that developed their strength and flexibility. Using simple means, Pilates designed exercise machines to help with this, which were initially attached to hospital beds with springs. In 1926, he moved to New York. There he studied movement, fine-tuned his machines and developed his method on a ongoing basis.