Information About Pilates' Books

These reviews have been written by Judd Robbins.
If you wish a review of your video included here, please send a review copy to
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Presentation Dynamics
Joseph Pilates' original book, "Return to Life Through Contrology", is available from Presentation Dynamics. Although some of the directions require special care and instructional admonitions, the set of 34 original exercises and photographic sequences are the only published versions of Joe's original work. For instructors and students alike, it is a worthwhile library addition to ensure that any current instruction is compared and evaluated in a comparative context to Joseph Pilates' original words. Joe's only other published book, "Your Health", is also available from Presentation Dynamics. While some of the surrounding textual material is dated, this work does represent an important backdrop (it was written 11 years earlier than 'Contrology') to Joe's eventual set of 34 mat exercises. Once again, instructors and students will both gain important perspectives from Joe's documented concepts of important physical education principles, from spinal flexibility and postural alignment to cell oxygenation.

Orthopedic Physical Therapy Products, Suite 175, 3700 Annapolis Lane,
P.O. Box 47009, Minneapolis, MN 55447-0009
1-800-367-7393       1-763-553-0452
The Pilates Back Book --- By Tia Stanmore. Nearly half the book covers basics of anatomy and  physiology related to better understanding the back. The remaining portions of the book present fundamental Pilates exercises aimed at developing both back strength and flexibility. Suitable for beginners.

Pilates Body in Motion --- By Alycea Ungaro. Very well done presentation of Pilates work; suitable for all student levels. Sections of the book are devoted to different levels, offering emphasis on important underlying elements of Pilates exercises, from breath to precision to flow. Reps, cautions, and visualizations are offered to enhance work at each level, with 'head-to-toe checklists' included for corrections of commonly identified mistakes.

Pilates Body Conditioning --- By Anna Selby & Alan Herdman. Includes an introductory section using a typical Reformer. Primarily offers three separate levels of workout, gradually expanding the complexity and difficulty level of the Pilates exercises, while building traditional awareness and concentration on releasing, mobilizing, and strengthening at each level of fitness. Suitable for beginners to intermediates.

Commonsense Pilates --- By Emily Kelly. A good work to introduce beginners to Pilates, and to assist both beginners and intermediates to understand variations to employ for similar exercises. Helpful for progressing initially, using clear and colorful picture sequences and introducing multi-level instruction guidelines.

PHYSICALMIND® INSTITUTE, 84 Wooster St #405, New York, NY 10012

Cadillac Encyclopedia This easy to follow reference guide from the PhysicalMind Institute (800-505-1990) includes information on positions, movements, cues and equipment adjustments for 24 illustrated Cadillac exercises such as Flying Eagle, Salute, Swan, Cat, Teaser Series, Monkey, Eve's Lunge, plus many variations. Includes an addendum of more than 20 additional exercises with modifications and variations. A companion publication for the Cadillac Choreography video. (Spiral bound booklet.) 

Anatomy of Pilates --- Clearly a work for instructors, not typical students. Reminded me of the notes that a good student (on their way to becoming an instructor) might take during training. A worthy reference work for any instructor's library, this work concentrates on fundamentals, anatomy and biomechanical aspects of all of Joe's original exercises, seen both in matwork and Reformer contexts.

Other Individual Books from Different Publishers:

"Pilates Plus Method" is a marvelous book by Jennifer Kries (2001, Warner Books Inc., New York). As both a yoga and Pilates teacher who loves to dance, Jennifer's blend of exercises from all three art forms was eagerly read by me. She does an excellent job of presenting her own sequential and graduated choice of possible exercises from all three venues. Along with photographic sequences, her easily understood explanations emphasize coordinated breathing patterns along with muscle engagement. Her explanations of essential elements in the overall program offer a worthy framework for the book's exercises. 

"The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning", written by Philip Friedman & Gail Eisen, was published in 1980 by Doubleday & Company in New York. Although currently out of print, I managed to find a copy in a used book store in Seattle. It's a good piece of work, and worth looking for.

"The Complete Guide to the Pilates Method", written by Allan Menezes, was published in Australia in 1998 by Ahead in Marketing. It is currently available from the The Pilates Institute of Australasia, P.O. Box 1046, North Sydney NSW 2059 Australia, Phone: 61 (02) 8920 2622; Fax: 61 (02) 8920 2633. from or An excellent book that presents a wide variety of Pilates-based exercises, incorporating photographs with step by step instructions, key points, cautions, and variations. Nicely illustrated with good photography. 184 pages. ISBN 0-646-35767-0

"The Pilates Powerhouse", written by Mari Winsor, was published in 1999 by Perseus Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Currently available from any bookstore, it is written by a dancer who obviously is used to 'feeling' what is right for her body. I liked her introductory sections, especially her references to the 'joy of movement' (the name of a dance studio that I went to in Boston over twenty years ago). Her chapters on Pilates exercises, however, lack the cautionary rigor for injury avoidance that another book might provide and that a traditional teacher or personal trainer would provide. So this book might be considered an introductory work for fitness enthusiasts that themselves are not at a beginner's level of body awareness.

"Body Control Using Techniques Developed by Joseph H. Pilates", written by Lynne Robinson and Gordon Thomson, was published by BainBridge Books in 1998. It includes basic mat exercises, basic foundation philosophy and information about proper breathing, alignment, etc. One of the first Pilates books to be published besides for Joseph Pilates' own books. 127 pages, US$19.95 ISBN 1-891696-00-9

"15 Minute Pilates", - Body Maintenance to make you Longer, Leaner, and Stronger, was written by Lesley Ackland and Eva Gizowska, and published by HarperCollins Publishers in 1998. It includes mat and standing work, presenting basic info on alignment, breathing, centering, etc. Also has a good section on anatomy for the layman. 180 pages, UK(pound)6.99 ISBN 0-7225-3776-X

"Pilates - The Way Forward", written by Lynne Robinson and Gordon Thomson, was published in 1999 by Pan Books in England. Also available from any bookstore, this book is a good overall exercise book. However, it does not do Joe's exercise set justice because it spends so much time dissipating the Pilates focus by incorporating a mix of small training aids like weights, bars, and pillows.

Stott Conditioning's "Intermediate/Advanced Reformer Manuals", written and compiled by Beth Evans and Moira Stott Merrithew, were both published in 1999 by STOTT CONDITIONING, 456 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4K 1P4 1-800-910-0001 Truly superior training materials for working out on a Reformer, both of these works include long and short box exercises as well as the expected series of standard exercises with variations. Although designed to complement Stott's Reformer videos, the books don't really have enough photographs in them, but the explanations, breathing guidance, muscular emphases and tips for precautions and avoidances are good enough to make both books worth buying just for themselves.

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