- Paperback: 106 pages
- Publisher: Pilates Method Alliance, Incorporated; 2nd edition (October 5, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0976823209
- ISBN-13: 978-0976823209
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Return to Life Paperback – October 5, 2012
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From the Back Cover
This book represents the first major publication in 1945 by Joseph H. Pilates and William J. Miller detailing the exercises, poses, and instructions fundamental to the matwork developed by Joseph and Clara Pilates. Based on his concepts of a balanced Body and Mind, drawn from the approach espoused by the early Greeks, these are the exercises that currently sustain a worldwide revolution in fitness strategies and exercise techniques.
Joseph Pilates has been nothing short of revolutionary in his impact on the world of fitness and exercise. You will learn in this book the original 34 exercises that he taught to his students, many of whom have become exercise gurus in their own right. These carefully designed exercises constitute the results of decades of scientific study, experimentation and research into the variety of physical ills that upset the balance of body and mind.
Pilates makes extraordinary claims about the benefits of his defined science of "Contrology". The exercises shown in this book constitute the breadth of his original definition of Contrology, and are basic to the growing army of worldwide trainers whose teachings rely on the instructions contained in this book. Living testimony to the validity of his own teachings, the photographs of this book are of Joseph Pilates himself at age sixty!
In this book, you will learn the exercises that Joseph Pilates recommended to accompany the basic advice (offered separately in his book, Your Health - see below) regarding posture, body mechanics, correct breathing, spinal flexibility, and physical education. It is fascinating to study these exercises and to discover the origins of what is being taught by fitness enthusiasts, health educators, and exercise trainers around the world. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a simple, short manual. It's surprising that a system that has ended up being shrouded in so many mysteries and rules, particularly by those who are in his direct "lineage", started out relatively humbly. Many, many Pilates instructors will tell you that if you can't take a class in Pilates (and usually in an expensive studio), you're probably doing it wrong (and then maybe it's not worth doing). Also, many instructors have argued that most people aren't ready to do the matwork and that they should almost always begin with sessions on the equipment (again, under the watchful and expensive eye of an instructor). Pilates, however, writes that his system should help you "Return to Life" at a minimum of cost and time. The tone of his writing is inclusive- his system should be readily available to everyone. While he does insist that the instructions he sets out should be followed and that one shouldn't move on until all previous exercises are mastered, I'm not sure that the man who wrote this book in 1945 would approve of the elitist tone that some of his modern-day disciples have adopted.
It's interesting to note some of the exercises that are not included in the book. For example, the five-part Stomach Series is one of the most famous sequences in the modern Pilates matwork. Here, however, Pilates only includes the first two exercises (the One Leg Stretch and the Double Leg Stretch). Also, the matwork system is also well-known for the Side Kick Series. Here, Pilates only includes the Side Kick- none of the other now-common five, six, seven, etc. variations. Were these not included because they hadn't been invented yet or because they were deemed too difficult? Not sure, but he does include the more difficult variations for exercises like the Corkscrew.
The instructions for each exercise are simple and (for the most part) easy to understand. That said, it is easy to understand why many Pilates instructors could get overly wordy on some of the movements. Many of the exercises he demonstrates put a lot of pressure on the neck. I wouldn't necessarily advise that this be the only Pilates reference or manual someone uses to learn the movements.
In addition to the instructions for the Contrology matwork, Pilates also shares his thoughts on the importance of proper diet, sleep and relaxation. After reading this twice, I would say that his primary concern was a lack of good circulation. He explains that his system was designed to promote just that (and that's part of the reason almost none of the movements are done standing), and he even has suggestions for the proper way to clean the body such that the skin can breathe (answer: dry-brushing).
While some of Pilates writing style may be off-putting to modern readers, he comes across as a man who would like to make the world a better place, one body at a time. If perhaps a little too strident at times, his motivation seems both benevolent and sincere.