Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge by Brooke Siler

The author runs a prominent Pilates studio in Manhattan and trained with one of Joseph Pilates’s original students. However, despite that background, this book is less of an encyclopedia authentic Pilates exercises and instead a good shot at helping ordinary people (especially women apply Pilates to real life.)

Her point is that she’s seen too many students do well for an hour while being taught or working out, but then forget their Pilates when they leave the studio. They walk with a slump, slouch and so on.

She wants everybody to use Pilates when it’s meant to be used — all the time. You can’t do the exercises contuously, but you can and should keep your posture straight, you weight evenly distributed, your spine in alignment with your muscles.

It does little good for your health to practice correct movements three to five hours a week, but fall back into your unhealthy habits the rest of the time.

She starts off with basic background on Pilates and its principles, and on the concepts of Pilates movement: stability/mobility, resistance/operation, leverage, articulation and balance.

She goes over the benefits of good posture and breathing the Pilates way, as well as advice on how to sit and stand with good posture, so you don’t stress your joints.

Then she includes an unusual section: how to apply Pilates principles to working out on various pieces of exercise equipment: treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, stair machines, and rowing machines. She gives four variations on the usual way of using these machines, and advises spending two minutes apiece on them (the usual way plus four variations equals five), for a total ten.

Her advice here is to use each machine for the ten minutes total, then move on to the next one, for a workout that last nearly an hour. This is a cardio circuit.

She then gives a series of exercises and variations you can do at home and on the mat. Lifting free weights, jumping jacks, using flexible bands, jumping rope, the roll up, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, double leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, crisscross, spine stretch forward, open leg rocker, double leg kicks, and low back stretch.

She also includes information on the correct stance for common every day activities: sitting, standing, carrying bags of groceries, holding babies, sitting in front of your computer, using a photocopy machine and driving.

Another chapter covers applying Pilates to various sports such as golf (according to the author, Tiger Woods did), skiing, snowboarding and tennis.

This is a great beginners book to remind them to take their Pilates success from the studio into their daily lives. I doubt many people can do it by themselves unless they’re too young to have already developed a lot of bad habits.

But if you’re already in Pilates classes and therefore already strengthening your core, learning to align your spine, working out your muscles in a balanced way, and increasing your flexibility, this is a great guide on taking Pilates into your daily life, for increased progress and better health.

How Pilates Can Promote Good Health In Both Mind And Body

It’s been known for some time that a good daily exercise routine can help both improve a person’s physical health and also their mental outlook as well. The body just seems to respond well to being kept in tune. But even further advancement in mind/body health has been brought about in recent years through the use of the pilates exercise method.

Joseph Pilates formulated the basic exercises that comprise the system over 70 years ago, and so the system of graceful movements is named after him. Of course, since that time many more exercises have been added and refinements made, but many of the original exercises are still in use as well.

Pilates felt that the mind and body were connected as a unit and that the mind could help strengthen and control the body’s health if focused properly. So he worked up a system of movements that must be done gracefully and accompanied with proper breathing techniques to build up the core muscles of the body and enhance flexibility in the process. His work became quickly adopted when he opened his studio in New York City and since then has been carried on and expanded after his death.

Pilates exercises try to build strength and stamina not through aerobic and weight training as much as controlled body movements that use isometric principles instead. They can be performed just about anywhere and the only really necessary piece of equipment is a mat upon which to lie down.

Although pilates may sound like a very simple thing to do, there is more to it than you may initially think. Of course, it can be very gentle for those who have been injured and need to start slowly, but for those who are long time practitioners pilates can be challenging as it calls for stretching almost every muscle in your body as you go through the movements and to even hold those stretches for a period of time.

But pilates has another very beneficial effect on one’s health as it contributes to a positive and relaxed mental outlook. That is something that many people would love to have these days, and so they are surprised to learn that pilates can help in this area. But the combination of breathing exercises and total concentration on the movements seems to help many release the worries that cloud their mind from each day’s activity as they go through their pilates workout.

So if you feel that you need to improve both your physical and mental health, why not take a good long look at pilates to see if it can benefit you? It doesn’t take much to get started, and is not expensive at all like other fitness routines. There is no time like the present to begin.