Everyone has heard the old adage, "If you don't use it, you lose it." Well, this book helps you use your body in ways that will help keep it spry and supple as your age advances with absolutely none of the jolt of high impact exercise.
Firstly, I would recommend at least five sessions with a registered Pilates instructor. Although it is possible to understand the body allignment necessary to perform these exercises optimally by reading the 'Key Elements to Mastering the Mat' chapter of the book, the process is expedited by someone who can 'show' as well as 'tell'. If instruction is impossible, I would recommend Jennifer Kries instructional tape "The Method:Precision Toning"; actually seeing the exercises in sequence with Ms. Kries gentle encouragement helps to assimilate the photos in the book into the reality of the motion. Note: the tape does not cover all the positions, but provides enough for a worthy introduction.
The book helps the exerciser to understand just what each movement is meant to feel like. It uses photographs that simulate each progression of movement and written copy that details the procedure step-by-step. In addition to this, tips regarding how best to engage and hence strengthen the muscles in your powerhouse (abdominals, hips, lower back and buttocks)are provided in bullet fashion. Most importantly, there are little sketches which help you to visualize the feeling the exercise is meant to arouse within the body. All exercises are presented in sequence so that they flow from one to another; each exercise is labeled 'beginner', 'intermediate' or 'advanced' and features a corresponding model which helps you to delineate based on current level. Sides series leg exercises follow the basic mat technique and extras using light weights complete the program. The author, Brooke Siler, cleverly includes a state-by-state list of registered Pilates instructors so that you can learn the basics from a pro.
I have used this book for over two years; I have found that the 15 to 30 to 45 minutes I spend on performing these exercises each morning---the time differences reflect wheither I do side series or weights---has enabled me to participate in more rigorous athletic activities without so much as blinking an eye. Recently I did a mountain bike ride--22 miles--an activity I have not participated in for quite a while----and felt absolutely no pain the next morning. You will find you use the techniques used to engage the powerhouse all the time, even when just walking down the block. The Pilates breathing becomes second nature as does all movement from the core. I will warn you that Pilates is not easy. If you have not participated in some form of body toning for a while, you will definitely feel pain in your abdominals even if you perform just the very basic routine. Don't let this discourage you--I have a C-section pouch that certainly does not help to ease any of the motions---the pain quickly passes and the developing strength provides a good base for all your other activities. Each movement incorporates toning with stretching--you will actually feel your muscles stretching from the powerhouse and reaching out in ways that traditional stretching never quite realizes. After performing just the basics for a week, you will immediately understand why professional dancers have used these techniques for over 50 years and why you should, too.
Siler's book is the best book on the subject, one that you will consult regularly as you make Pilates one of your exercise mainstays. Highly recommended.
This book is one of the best references on the Pilates Method available today, but it's not good enough to be considered a how-to manual. Although a great source of information on the principles of the mat workout, lacks precise instructions on the execution of the exercises, and doesn't include any reference to the equipment and accessories associated to the Method. Learning Pilates from this book without the aid of classes to explain and ensure correct form and fluid, rhythmic movements is very … more
The Pilates® method may be today's hottest exercise, but it has been
endorsed by physicians for almost a century. Originally developed by
Joseph H. Pilates to help strengthen and condition muscles, Pilates is
the ultimate mind-body exercise for anyone who wants to tone,
streamline, and realign their body without the bulked-up results of
more conventional workout methods.