Following on from our look at the best and most informative books for personal trainers, we now turn our attention to Pilates, which, along with yoga, has fast become one of the most popular forms of exercise. The practice was pioneered by German-born Joseph Pilates who, as a child, suffered greatly from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. Despite doctors warning, he could die prematurely, Pilates became determined to improve his physical condition. This led him to study yoga, martial arts, boxing and weightlifting. By 1926 he had emigrated to the United States and had opened a studio in New York. It was here that he gave advice to the dancers from the nearby New York School of Ballet who used to flock to him looking to overcome their dance-related injuries.
Over the years, Pilates’ original work has greatly evolved, becoming more scientific in its approach to exercise and training. Today there are many interpretations and schools of Pilates, each utilising Joseph’s teachings in a slightly different way. Despite this, they still remain true to his original vision.
Whether you’re already a qualified instructor or currently studying for your Level 3, these five books should always be within easy reach.
Return to Life Through Contrology
Originally published in 1945, Joseph Pilates’ seminal exercise book covers the philosophy and conceptual basis of Pilates or ‘Contrology’, as it was originally known. The book features Pilates’ original matwork exercises, approaches that encourage the use of the mind to control muscles, and the importance of ‘the core’, as it relates to providing support for the spine. As the father of Pilates, this text is the very definition of a must read.
Debbie Lawrence is an extremely well-regarded fitness professional and her book is an essential resource for Pilates instructors. This comprehensive guide covers the history of Pilates; how specific exercises impact muscle groups; ready-made session plans; and easy to follow anatomical diagrams and photographs breaking down various exercises.
The Pilates Bible
The self-professed ‘most comprehensive and accessible guide to Pilates ever’, contains over 200 pages of full-colour photographs which break down exercises into easy to follow steps. The book also includes special sections for new mothers and children, and people with conditions such as osteoarthritis, back pain and knee injuries.
The Relaxation Response
Harvard physician Herbert Benson wrote this bestselling self-help book with the aim of simplifying Transcendental Meditation for the Western world. Contained within is an effective approach to relieving stress and managing blood pressure. The techniques are also recommended as a form of treatment with those with chronic pain and other physical ailments, without the need for a reliance on medication.
Muscles: Testing and Function, with Posture and Pain
Often regarded a classic, this 5th edition provides you with vital knowledge needed to manually test the body’s muscles, as well as evaluate and treat postural conditions. With numerous photos and diagrams to accompany the text, this book is useful for a range of health and fitness professionals, including personal trainers and Pilates instructors.