Wonderful questions I received this week about Joseph Pilates book Return to Life, and other Pilates Matwork book & DVD resources for Pilates teachers and students. Keep reading this post to see the questions I’ve been asked, and my thoughts on the topic of publication quality, content, and the benefits of different Pilates exercise resources on the market.
On your website you have a copy of RETURN TO LIFE and a product with a man who demonstrates all the MAT EXERCISES. I have two questions for you:
I look forward to your reply with much anticipation.
Hi, Thanks for your questions about Return to Life & Pilates Matwork DVD’s. Seems like I have multiple copies of Return to Life and Joe’s other book, Your Health somewhere in my library. At the moment, they’ve acquired legs – so I’m writing this from my experience, not having my books sitting in front of me to compare.
I do agree that the quality of the photos is poor in my Joseph Pilates books published by Presentation Dynamics. The photos could have been lightened a bit, but when you’re working with historical footage it’s never going to be as clear and crisp as the HD photos we’re taking today.
The version of Return to Life that is for sale on my website was published by the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA). I don’t think the text is any different between the different republished versions of this book. I’ve never actually sat down with my two different copies of Return to Life and compared the text. Because this is the actual book that Joseph Pilates wrote, the descriptions for the exercises in this book were written by Joe! If you’re disappointed with the amount of detail in these descriptions, it’s not the publishers fault…this is what Joe felt was important for you to know to execute the Matwork exercises.
It seems to me that the photos in the PMA’s republished version of Return to Life are of a better quality. But they are still historical photos of Joe executing the exercises – so don’t expect a HD photo!
I agree, it would be wonderful to own an original copy of Return to Life! But the information contained in the original, the Millennium edition you own, and the PMA’s edition is the exactly the same. So from a content standpoint, you’ve got the information that Joseph Pilates intended you to have to be able to read, understand, and execute the exercises.
You also mentioned a man who’s demonstrating the Mat exercises in products on my site. I believe the products you’re referencing are two of my Beginer-intermediate Pilates Matwork with Flow – 23 exercises , and Intermediate Pilates Matwork -35 exercises . These are actual Mat workouts, but are AUDIO recordings I have created for people who are familiar with the exercises to use and listen to for their at-home Pilates workouts. Because these are audio products, there are no pictures or descriptions of the exercises (as in books or videos). The man on the cover of these CD’s was a client in my studio – and I wanted men and women to know they can participate in Pilates! Thought a male cover model might help encourage men to purchase this workout! Real Men Do Pilates too!
I believe that every vendor for Pilates Teacher-Training Programs has some sort of reference materials for the repertoire of Pilates exercises in their program. For the Centerworks program, my reference materials are in book form. . Again – these were created before the slick HD cameras were available, so picture quality is OK, but not HD!
On a side note: People who participate in my workshops, Pilates Teacher-Training Program, workshops, classes, and private training learn much more info, details, variations, and valuable insights for every exercise. I believe this should be true for any and every Pilates teacher you work with. Since I am learning new things daily – I feel obliged to pass it on!
Books and videos are great reference materials to help remember the exercises, but nothing compares to having an actual teacher looking at your body to give you personal cues for body awareness and improvement. And keep in mind that different teachers, with different backgrounds, and different levels of experience & expertise can help you see and feel different things to improve your health, fitness, and execution of your Pilates exercises.
I am almost eighteen years into my Pilates teaching career and personal Pilates practice, and I am amazed that I continue to learn new things about each exercise and how the body works DAILY!!! It’s possible to spend a lifetime continuing to dig into the details of each exercise, and we still probably won’t know all there is to know. I don’t think there will ever be a single resource on the planet that can comprehensively tell you everything you need to know about Pilates! It’s a nice thought…but I believe, quite an impossible task.
I feel blessed to be a “Classically” trained Pilates teacher. AND, I am also conscious of the fact that I have learned tons of non-classical information that has added wonderful layers and depth to my experience & expertise. At this point in my career – I probably know at least 3-5 different versions of each exercise, plus versions with props, multiple versions to modify each exercise, multiple versions to make exercises more challenging, multiple transitions, many different breath patterns, and lots of options to change the rhythm and dynamics of each exercise. And this knowledge base continues to grow…. All choices, based on the needs and goals of my clients.Different versions for each Pilates exercise may be
better/worse, safer/more dangerous, help you improve more quickly/ slower.
All of this depends on who you are, your level of fitness, and health history.
You can’t put ALL of this in one book or video – it would only confuse people. It’s best to have a BASE version that is your primary way to execute each exercise. Then be aware that there are lots of ways to tweak things to help deepen your body awareness, and body mechanics for better execution, strength, flexibility, and flow. Different books, and videos from different teachers with different backgrounds, from different lines of Pilates lineages can help layer in some of this information to your knowledge base and expertise.
Hope I’ve provided you with a few new resources, and perhaps some food for thought when analyzing the different choices available to continue growing your Pilates knowledge.
May we all continue to evolve and grow in our depth of understanding for whole-body health, wellness, and personal development – Mind, Body, and Spirit, for our own bodies and to share with EVERY Body else! If you have additional resources you feel have been of great benefit to you, don’t keep it a secret – please share!
Have a Fit & Fabulous Day.