Thin-but-fit supermodels like Amber Valletta and Shalom Harlow and actresses like Ally McBeal's Courtney Thorne-Smith and Liv Tyler swear by Pilates workouts to keep their figures toned and flexible. The Pilates Body is the latest in a string of books dedicated to this fitness program, which is now soaring in popularity nearly 100 years after it was first developed by Joseph Pilates in Germany in the early 1900s. While today's Pilates studios take advantage of patented and intimidating-looking equipment that costs thousands of dollars (and therefore charge accordingly for private sessions), each exercise in The Pilates Body can be performed with just an exercise mat. While all parts of the body are used in the exercises, the focus is on the abdominals, or "powerhouse," which support the back; this makes Pilates an ideal exercise for those with back problems--or those hoping to prevent them.
Author Brooke Siler, who trained with Romana Kryzanowska, the oldest living protégé of Joseph Pilates, organizes her book impeccably. After discussing proper alignment and ways to modify the exercises for those with neck, knee, or lower back pain, she jumps right into the 60-plus exercises, which are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. What differentiates Siler's book from the other Pilates titles is that she includes a disclaimer about the models: "The models in this book have been training in the Pilates method for years. Although their bodies may seem to represent an unrealistic ideal for many, they have worked hard to achieve their fitness goals. I hope in earnest that they do not intimidate but inspire." Also, each exercise is given a two-page spread of its own, and is accompanied by clear photographs and helpful graphics. For example, for the "inner-thigh lifts," there's an illustration suggesting that you imagine a stack of books on the lifting leg to help you increase resistance. Each exercise also includes what Siler calls "The Inside Scoop," or tips she's learned from training hundreds of clients. These include the main goal of the exercise; simple modifications for beginners; important keys to remember while doing the move; and no-nos to prevent injury. While it's important to concentrate and get the technique of each exercise down, Siler's book is perfect for anyone looking for a simple exercise program that promises results, requires a minimum of time, and can be done at home or while traveling. --Erica Jorgensen
"Brooke is extremely knowledgeable about using Pilates as a tool to increase muscle strength and improve life energy and vitality. I love Brooke!"
"All trainers feel committed to their clients. However, few give the dedication of a coach. Brooke is a trainer who is a coach. She pushes me to realize my potential and believes in my ability more than I do."
--Trudi Tapscott, Model Editor, Vogue magazine
"In ten sessions you will feel the difference, in twenty you will see the difference, and in thirty you'll have a whole new body."
--Joseph H. Pilates
I was introduced to pilates from a colleague. I found this in the best seller section and went with it. No let downs, this is a great starter!Published 1 day ago by Mary Watson
Easy to follow guide to Pilates--I bought it so I'd get more out of my personal training sessions. This gives me a routine I can follow at home or on the road.Published 12 days ago by KC
This is a good book to have for the beginner - good photos and descriptions.Published 15 days ago by J. Alarcon
Err. I thought this was a relic of the ancient governor of Palestine who later turned Christian and was executed for that. D'oh!Published 1 month ago by The Doer
Very good, very basic guide to beginner Pilates. Author adds many tips and suggestions for each exercise and the illustrations help also.Published 1 month ago by Susan Biskner
This is probably the single best exercise book that I have ever used - across all types of exercises. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Robert K
Lots of pictures with explanations and helpful visualizations on what a move should feel like. I have been slowly working through this book and I have it by my side whenever I do... Read morePublished 2 months ago by KateF
This was long considered the one book to have for those learning pilates. I now believe that title more rightfully goes to "The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates: The... Read morePublished 2 months ago by COProgressive