The Pilates Body: The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening, and Toning Your Body--Without Machines

The Pilates Body: The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening, and Toning Your Body--Without Machines


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767903967
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 01/28/2000
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 118,342
Product dimensions: 7.45(w) x 9.19(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Brooke Siler is the co-owner of re:AB, the renowned studio for Pilates® training in New York City, where her clients include Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, and Liv Tyler. Hailed as the "trainer to the stars," she trained under Joseph Pilates' protégé, Romana Kryzanowska, and has been recognized by Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, and the New York Observer as one of the country's leading fitness gurus. She lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

What Is Pilates?

The Pilates® method of body conditioning is a unique system of stretching and strengthening exercises developed over ninety years ago by Joseph H. Pilates. It strengthens and tones muscles, improves posture, provides flexibility and balance, unites body and mind, and creates a more streamlined shape.

At a time when the fitness industry is tripping over itself to create new, innovative trends, the Pilates method, with more than nine decades of success, stands out as a tried-and-true formula of wisdom and unwavering results. Pilates was developed to create a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy life, and people are ready to heed its message of balance.

Whether because of a new consciousness or an intense dissatisfaction with the results of trendy exercise programs, in the past five years there has been a tremendous surge in the mind-body focus movement. People are beginning to realize how inefficient the exercises of the 1980s really were. We may have bought into the no-pain-no-gain mentality, but ultimately that led us to spend too much of our precious spare time chained to the gym. We now realize that while exercise should be an important part of our lives, it should add to and not take away from our enjoyment of a full life. With Pilates, specifically the matwork, we can minimize the amount of time spent in a gym or in front of an exercise video, but maximize the results achieved from a full-body workout. The matwork teaches us that the body is the finest and only tool necessary for achieving physical fitness.

Our old exercise regimes are failing us for another reason: They are based on isolating muscles and working each area of the body individually rather than treating the body as the integrated whole it is. The poor physical condition many of us are in today comes from the imbalance of engaging in complicated, inefficient exercises that isolate certain body parts while neglecting others. If our goal in exercising is to balance our bodies, improve circulation, reduce stress, improve endurance, look better, and feel great, then wouldn't it stand to reason that we should utilize the one method that for over nine decades has proven its ability to achieve all these things?

The Pilates philosophy focuses on training the mind and body to work together toward the goal of overall fitness. Although born in a completely different era, Joseph Pilates understood the physical and mental pressures of a busy schedule. He sought to reeducate us to work our bodies with the efficiency of performing our daily tasks in mind. Pilates believed that his method would propel people to become more productive both mentally and physically. For this reason the Pilates matwork is designed to fit into the physical and time constraints of the individual without diminishing its comprehensive elements.

Pilates began developing his exercise system in Germany in the early 1900s. Plagued by asthma and rickets as a child, Pilates' method sprang from his determination to strengthen his frail and sickly body. He called his method "The Art of Contrology," or muscle control, to highlight his unique approach of using the mind to master the muscles. Interned during the First World War, he taught his method to fellow internees and successfully maintained their health through the deadly influenza epidemic of 1918. During the latter part of the war Pilates served as an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man, where he began working with nonambulatory patients. He attached springs to the hospital beds to support the patients' ailing limbs while he worked with them, and he and the doctors noticed that the patients were improving faster.

These spring-based exercises became the basis for the apparatus Pilates would later design to be used in conjunction with the matwork. That is why the Pilates name is often associated with antiquated-looking machines, but the matwork is the original movement system that Joseph Pilates created and is just as effective as the work done on the machines. This book shows the entire matwork sequence and has the advantage of being completely portable. The movements of Pilates matwork need no accoutrements and can be performed anywhere a normal human body can fit comfortably when stretched out at full length.

Joseph set up the first official Pilates Studio® in New York City after immigrating to the United States in 1926.  Since its introduction to American culture Pilates has maintained a steady and devout following. It has been the secret of dancers and performers since the late 1920s; Martha Graham and George Balanchine were big fans. In recent years it has been discovered by athletes, models, and actors who say they owe their strong, lithe bodies to the Pilates method.

Joseph Pilates authored a book in 1945 called Return to Life. That title epitomizes the very nature of the Pilates method. Through concentrated and creative effort you too will reap the myriad benefits that this unique method of conditioning has to offer, reawakening your body through movement and your mind through conscious thought. The combination results in the extra plus of the Pilates method: a revitalization of spirit that is a crucial factor in maintaining good health and a sound mind and body.

"Ideally, our muscles should obey our will. Reasonably, our will should not be dominated by the reflex actions of our muscles." Joseph Pilates believed in the power of our minds to control our bodies. He proved his theory time and again through years of research and training, and his legacy has been passed down through his students.

I have been involved in health clubs in one form or another since the age of fifteen and have tried all that they have to offer. I spent years as a personal trainer using weights and machines and sincerely believed that I had put all the strength into my body that it might need. I was wrong. What I had done was create a bulky, stiff set of muscles in a young, active body. I spent hours in the gym daily trying to create a feeling of well-being that was eluding me at every turn. I continued to have aches and pains that no amount of training would alleviate, and worst of all . . . I was bored!

And then I discovered the Pilates method of body conditioning. Within a matter of weeks I began to feel the internal strength that I had craved. My movements became more controlled and responsive. I was standing straighter and feeling more energized than ever before. After a few short months my bulky muscles began lengthening and my flexibility increased tenfold. I felt as graceful and lithe as a dancer. Subsequently my aches and pains vanished and I found myself enjoying my activities more. Most important, I felt empowered by my newfound knowledge. I was interested. I was in control. I was hooked.

Two and a half months after discovering Pilates I enrolled in the certification course, and in the years since, I have enveloped myself in the world of Pilates as both student and teacher. I have trained for thousands of hours and have watched the magic of this method unfold before my eyes both in my own work and in the work of my clients.

I continue to study under the master tutelage of Romana Kryzanowska, who was chosen by Joseph and his wife, Clara Pilates, to carry on his work. I bring you The Pilates Body in the effort to further expound upon the brilliance of this method in a clear, concise, and creative way. For each movement I have provided visual and verbal cues that will stimulate your mind to action. With patience and perseverance your body will follow, allowing you to experience the efficiency of the Pilates method.

The beauty of Pilates is that once you understand the core of its philosophy, its movements can be translated into any format. Each exercise is an important movement in and of itself and can be used as a way to stretch and move correctly in the course of one's day, but it is not a limited exercise regimen. Many people use the essence of the exercises to enhance other activities; athletes, for example, employ the movements and philosophy of Pilates in their sports. But whether you're an athlete or a couch potato, young and limber or old and inflexible, the Pilates method can and does change the way you relate to your own body and the way you carry it in the world.

The power each of us holds to take control over our own well-being is startling. It begins by becoming aware of our bodies as an integrated part of our creative minds. We were all born with that power. We were all children with active imaginations that continue to live inside us. Sometimes we only need reminding. This book is that reminder. Instead of giving your power away, you will learn to harness it and use it for your very own. This book will teach you to creatively blend the power of your mind with the movement of your body in a way that is both efficient and extremely enjoyable. It is important that you understand the role you play in all of this. It's all about you. What you put in is what you'll receive, no more and no less.

Remember that with the power of your mind you can bring anything to light, so see your goal and then work to achieve it. This book will serve as a tool to help you along the path, but remember that it is your dedication to yourself that ultimately makes it all possible.

Good luck, and above all else . . . enjoy yourself!

Table of Contents

What Is Pilates? 1
Philosophies Behind the Pilates Method of 7
Body Conditioning The Matwork Principles 15
Key Elements to Mastering the Mat 19
Frequently Asked Questions 25
The Matwork 33
The Next Step 174
Glossary 193

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The Pilates Body: The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening, and Toning Your Body--Without Machines 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a long review necessary for this book. It starts you out with the history of pilates and covers the basics. Then, it swiftly moves you to the meat and potatoes of the book- the moves and routines.

Excellent black and white photos are plastered throughout the book (ah, that's a good thing) alongside very simple explanations. There are many different levels of difficulty to choose from which makes it good for beginners as well as the experienced.

Probably one of the best in-home methods of exercising, I recommend "The Pilates Body" if pilates seems like it would be your cup of tea. Also recommend Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff if you have a shoulder problem that interferes with your pilates.
MsNikki on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Love it. Brooke believes in PIlates and has developed a way to make it a part of your daily life. Her illustrations are great and complement the models' demonstration of the moves. A DVD isn't necessary, and you get to work at your own pace, a definite advantage over classes and videos. According to Brooke never do more if you can't do it properly. This book got me excited about pilates, and if she does do a DVD I'm standing in line to buy it.
aikoeliz on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An excellent supplement to a class or a video. Very thorough descriptions of the exercises. However, it's hard to learn pilates from a book; try starting with a video or a class.
carterchristian1 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Good photographs showing the movements. Clear step by step descriptions. A very good book.
abc134 Eabc134 10 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whether you are a beginner (as I was) or advanced, this book is great! I really love that it has detailed instructions for each pose as well as what your goal is for the pose. Then, there is the complete routine on two pages in the middle of the book where you can follow the entire program without having to turn pages!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Not a long review necessary for this book. It starts you out with the history of pilates and covers the basics. Then, it swiftly moves you to the meat and potatoes of the book- the moves and routines. Excellent black and white photos are plastered throughout the book (ah, that's a good thing) alongside very simple explanations. There are many different levels of difficulty to choose from which makes it good for beginners as well as the experienced. Probably one of the best in-home methods of exercising, I recommend 'The Pilates Body' if pilates seems like it would be your cup of tea.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful! I am familiar with Pilates, so it is really easy for me to use. I needed something to take the place of an instructor while my gym was closed for three weeks (in August, in unfair is that?), and this really fit the bill. The pictures are great, especially the pages showing the exercises in order. Good to help learn the sequence (although I don't do them exactly in order, I find certain transitions easier than what Siler suggests). My only problems: the book doesn't stay open when you are using it...would be nice if it were spiral bound. Also, Christy Turlington is not even mentioned as a part of the book, much less an author. I find it odd that the website says that Turlington is one of the authors, when she isn't. Also, I imagine (and I, for one, feel this way) that many Pilates enthusiasts would be happier NOT to see a model's name associated with a fitness regime (what a refreshing change that would be!).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to my by my pilates instructor because I was moving to an area where there are no pilates-certified instructors. Brooke Siler's book not only reinforced everything I had learned in my pilates classes but it also allowed me to break down and learn new movements that I hadn't learned. For simplicity and clarity, nothing beats this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am one of those people that read every review and spent a lot of time before I chose a book to get me started. I picked this book and from the first time I layed down on the matt I had instant success. I sit at a desk all day and have become quite - unfit - with the new job. I am on the phone a lot and didn't have a head set (leading to shoulder pain), my thighs were spreading, and my hip hurt from a broken toe (trying not to walk so my foot hurt, left me with a sore hip.) I got up off the matt after doing my first round of the modified basic seven thinkinng, "Thats it? No sweat, no pain? How can that work? I was only their for 10 minutes or so." then I felt how good my body felt. Within one week, I was at good form, sitting better at work, little to no hip pain, energized and ready to move on. I am taking it slowly, as I have little time (especially choosing to start in the holiday season). But I also love the fact that I can do the basic seven in the morning and/or at night. I use to hate getting my body in motion and not being able to fall asleep, because I was hyped up. Using that an excuse to not work out. Now I can either run off to work or hit the sack, feeling better either way. This book has wonderful descriptions and imagery. For someone that feels like she is too busy taking care of everyone else this is the first time I have felt that I can work towards my fitness goals whenever I get the time, and focus on me for a change. She teaches that it isn't about putting in your time, or even about how many reps, it is about quality. And if you focous on the qualty you will see the results. I would love to have the time to take a few one on one courses with a pro, but with this book, I almost am. I did order a DVD (Classical Pilates Complete Mat Workout Series) as well, will see how that pushes me to go further. The only way to improve this book would be to make it spiral bound so you don't loose your place while doing the exercies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has got all the moves, and i mean all the moves! You want to feel between your bits? Well this is the book for you. Great reading with a big cup of tea!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most people are going to buy this book in order to get in shape. Getting in shape will mean eating right AND exercising. This book will help you with the exercising part. It offers gentle exercises that will help your muscles, but be aware, it will do nothing to get your heart in shape. I recommend this book to get you started in the direction of exercise, but then build on your program and combine it with a healthy diet and an aerobic exercise 2-3 times a week for your heart (I don't think any Pilates instructors would disagree with this philosophy). I think of this book as a vital part of a total program rather than a the-only-exercise-you'll-ever need book. I recommend Pilates as good exercise, but don't forget the rest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We are practicing the first steps of the Pilates Mat methods and we are enjoying it alot. With mostly women in our health and fitness class, we have taken a move from traditional "sweatin' workouts" to a more "control centered" workout. The results so far have been favorable. Some students, however, have desired more "sweatin'"!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great. I've done some exercises from it every week morning for about a year, and my abs (even though I have about average body fat) are nicely toned, as are my arms and legs. Honestly, all it has taken is 10-15 minutes, five days per week. The instructions are extremely clear, with great supplemental pictures, and there are tons of exercises wich one can work through at his own pace. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although the author says she moved away from more traditional workouts before embracing the Pilates method, I think it's entirely possible to use Pilates as a great supplement to regular time on the treadmill/track and the weight room. I have been doing Pilates mat work on my days off from the gym, and it has significantly enhanced my flexibility, muscle definition and endurance. This easy-to-read guide is awesome for anyone who wants to ease into or improve ANY kind of workout routine!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is exceptionally clear. The instructions are concise and yet still include all of the info you need in order to avoid injury. The pictures are inspirational. I do Pilates mat exercises everyday (by the book's instructions), and my muscles are continuing to become stronger and my figure is becoming leaner. Pilates is invigorating, and this book provides a door into the method. Take the first step toward optimal health by buying this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the book for any stage of Pilates. It is clear and informative and allows you to start from day one and move on to advanced Pilates.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is none other than amazing. Pilates gives me confidence and the power to achieve even more each day. There's no pain, but there certainly is lots to gain.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Pilates workout is good fun and very effective. I would have found it more useful if there was a nutritional aspect to the regime.