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A Pilates class exercising, each in a supine position with their legs raised and a ball between their feet.
A Pilates class exercising, each in a supine position with their legs raised and a ball between their feet.

The Top 5 Books for Pilates Instructors

4 minute read

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.

His journey, which could quite easily be a story in itself, saw him on the Isle of Man when World War I broke out in 1914, after moving to England in 1912. It was during the War that he would lay the very first foundations out for Pilates as we know it today, as he worked in a hospital helping the sick and injured to recover. This would include the prototype for the reformer, using springs from old hospital beds to create resistance.

Following the war he would continue to perfect his methods, and by 1926, he had emigrated to the United States and 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. Even though these schools run their own class formats and Pilates courses, they all still remain true to his original vision, principles and concepts.

Whether you’re already a qualified Pilates teacher, you’re studying for your Level 3 Pilates Qualification, or you’re taking the more advanced Level 4 Pilates Course, 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 34 mat work 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. Written by the father of Pilates, this text is the very definition of a must-read.

Pilates Method

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. As a result, it makes a fantastic read for any Pilates instructor, but particularly those first starting out.

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.

With beginner, intermediate and advanced segments, the Pilates Bible looks to serve as a one-stop guide for any level of instructor.

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 reliance on medication. As a result, it could also be worth considering for those with a Level 3 exercise referral qualification.

The Relaxation Response also looks to promote the benefits of meditation while counteracting the fight or flight response. With the calming nature of Pilates, it would make sense for an instructor to take an interest in these methods.

Muscles: Testing and Function, with Posture and Pain

Often regarded as 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.

If you have any favourite Pilates books that didn’t make our top 5, get via in touch Facebook and Twitter and let us know.

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