Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates, after whom it was named. Pilates called his method "Contrology". It is practiced worldwide, especially in Western countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. As of 2005, there were 11 million people practicing the discipline regularly and 14,000 instructors in the United States.
Pilates developed in the aftermath of the late 19th century physical culture of exercising in order to alleviate ill health. There is however only limited evidence to support the use of Pilates to alleviate things like lower back pain. Evidence from studies show that while Pilates improves balance, it has not been shown to be an effective treatment for any medical condition other than evidence that regular Pilates sessions can help muscle conditioning in healthy adults, when compared to doing no exercise.