The Everything Pilates Book by Any Taylor Alpers and Rachel Taylor Segel
Perhaps because of this, or because of the format of the "Everything" books, they go into a great deal more depth on the full extent of the Pilates system than the many other Pilates books I've been reading recently.
The other books all include a brief biography of Joseph Pilates and his story, but this one includes a full history of his career and his studio in New York City.
Plus it describes his main students who are now carrying on the teachings he began.
They then describe the many physical, mental and emotional benefits of Pilates and how it's for everybody from coach potatoes to athletes, kids to the elderly.
And stress that it's a program for lifetime physical fitness, not a quick fix.
They also have an entire chapter devoted to how Pilates can help rehabilitate injured people or simply correct chronic pain and weakness caused through imbalances and misalignments.
Pilates instructors are not trained in medicine, but many physical therapists are getting certified in Pilates and incorporating its exercises in their professional work.
They're also honest enough to describe (although in vague terms -- the principals are not named) the legal battles that have been waged over the Pilates system.
If, like me, you've wondered why you never heard of Pilates until recently even though Joseph set up his Manhattan studio in the 1920s, that's why.
It was tied up in court until an October 2000 decision that the name can't be trademarked or restricted.
That's good in the sense that the information is spreading so that many people can benefit from it.
However, it's bad in the sense that anyone can misrepresent their Pilates knowledge.
Their description of the basic principles of Pilates differs from some others I've seen in that it includes "Oppositional Energy.
" Some authors may not like what they perceive as its implied negativity because of the word "oppositional," but to me it implies balance in your mind and body, and how you use the bio-mechanical forces as you move your body.
I believe it's important because so many develop one part of their bodies at the expense of others, especially athletes.
The chapter on Pilates equipment is by far the best I've seen.
It's quite comprehensive.
They then describe a short Pilates workout of eleven fundamental exercises in the system: The Hundred, The Roll-Up, The Single Leg Circle, Rolling Like a Ball, The Single Leg Stretch, The Double Leg Stretch, The Spine Stretch, The Saw, The Swan, The Side Kick I and II, and The Seal.
They devote an entire chapter to each of those, giving you great in-depth information on how to do them, their benefits, beginners, basic and advanced versions.
However, those are the only exercises included in this book, so to learn the many other Pilates workouts available you need other books or to go to a class.
They finish up with an interesting chapter on how much work it takes to become certified in teaching Pilates.