Book Reviews

Reviewed by Heidi Dvorak, in Pilates Style Magazine, August 2013:
WHO Joseph Pilates, along with Physicalmind Institute-certified Judd Robbins and Lin Van Heuit-Robbins
WHAT This three-part book encompasses the history of the original work up to the present: First is Joseph Pilates’ Your Health (1934), second is Return to Life Through Contrology (1945) and the third is 10 chapters written by Robbins and Van Heuit-Robbins devoted to updates on props, techniques, fusion classes and more.
TARGETS All 34 of Pilates’ original poses are here with the copyrighted and republished photographs from his book and his step-by-step instructions.
INTENSITY High emotional impact because it becomes startlingly apparent that the powerful, enduring quality of the practice over a period of 79 years is nothing short of miraculous.
BUY THIS BECAUSE For those who don’t know the history of Pilates, this is a must read. For classicists, this book makes a strong case for modernizing the discipline in a way that would honor the master’s work.
SPECIAL FEATURES The authors make solid recommendations on new approaches that build on the original work by citing developments from such heavyweights as Joan Breibart, Elizabeth Larkam and Ron Fletcher.
256 pages, $19.95
Presentation Dynamics
Click here for PDF of original Review

REVIEW #1 on
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating History of Pilates and some of the best OLD and NEW instruction I have seen! July 21, 2012
I strongly recommend this book for both instructors and students of Pilates. This is a serious book that belongs on the shelves of instructors. At the same time, it is easy enough to follow so that serious students of Pilates will be able to benefit from it as well.

I was asked to review Pilates Evolution The 21st Century. I was glad to do it because I’ve enjoyed learning about and practicing Pilates for years, long before it became a popular form of exercise practiced by celebrities. Pilates was a genius with a passion for correcting fitness problems. I really didn’t expect to find more about the Pilates theories and principles than I had found over the years in all of the many books and videos I’ve enjoyed. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned from this book. This one is a keeper for me.

If you are interested in the hows and whys, this book just may be exactly what you are looking for. It goes back to the source – Joseph Hubertus Pilates.

I didn’t know that the old material here existed in a form that could be published. I had only seen a little here and there about the origins of Pilates. I found the new section to be expertly demonstrated, with clear and concise instructions.

Part I is the “1934 Edition of Joseph Pilates’ Your Health.” That section was amazing. I’ve seen some of the old pictures of Joseph Hubertus Pilates before, but had never seen any of his writing. Very interesting, definitely worth reading if you are interested in learning about the passion behind Pilates’ practical approach to fitness. I think of it as Pilates’ description of the problem he is trying to solve.

Part II is the “1945 Edition of Joseph Pilates’ Return to Life through Contrology.” Here I found definitions relating to Pilates’ proposed practical solutions to the problems he described in Part I.

The historical practical section includes the best Pilates instruction I’ve ever seen, clear and concise, easy to follow.

Part III is excellent. It’s the “21st Century Pilates Evolution.” I want to describe this section in detail, because this is where many of us will be spending most of our time.

It starts with a very brief but informative history which puts it all into perspective and then brings us up to the present time.

Especially helpful were the paragraphs on specific benefits to each section. As a student, I like to know WHY I am doing what I am doing.

Chapter 1: Pilates Magic Circle. I have to admit that I’ve had my Magic Circle for many years and never really could get a feel for it. This is the best practical set of detailed instructions and demonstration than I have seen.

Chapter 2: Weights
Chapter 3: Seated Pilates
Chapter 4: Mini Stability Ball
Chapter 5: Elastic Resistance
Chapter 6: Standing Work
Chapter 7: Circular Work
Chapter 8: Unstable Surfaces
Chapter 9: Fusion Classes
Chapter 10: Sports Specific Pilates

Appendix A: Glossary of PIlates’ terms
Appendix B: Index

There are RESOURCE sections all throughout the book for recommended books and DVDs. It’s going to take me quite some time to practice all that I’ve learned in this book, but I may check out some of the resources listed eventually. Right now I have a renewed enthusiasm about Pilates brought out of history to the present time.

REVIEW #2 on
4.0 out of 5 stars
Helpful combination of old and new Pilates reference material June 21, 2012

This new Pilates release offers a combination of original source material from the founder of the Pilates method, Joseph H. Pilates, as well as “evolutionary developments,” or updates to Pilates exercises for the 21st century. Joseph Pilates is credited as one of the authors because his two original books, YOUR HEALTH (1934 Edition) and RETURN TO LIFE THROUGH CONTROLOGY (1945 Edition) are reprinted here in their entirety. (Note: These two volumes can also be found in previous release A Pilates’ Primer : The Millennium Edition.) The remainder of this current work is attributable to Judd Robbins and Lin Van Heuit-Robbins, both of whom are Pilates instructors certified by the PhysicalMind Institute in New York City.

In Joseph Pilates’ first work, YOUR HEALTH, Pilates lays out some of the basic principles of contrology (“contrology” was the name that Pilates himself gave to his system); concepts covered here include posture, body mechanics, and breathing. Pilates’ later publication, RETURN TO LIFE THROUGH CONTROLOGY, provides an overview of his method itself. This book provides detailed descriptions of the 34 original mat exercises in the system, complete with Joseph Pilates himself demonstrating via black and white photos. Those who have never read any of Pilates’ original writings before will note that his passion about his work comes across as a certain smugness and conceit; in both publications, he makes extraordinary claims about the benefits of the Pilates method and seems convinced it is the ONLY way to attain true health and fitness. Personally, I found Pilates’ writing style a bit dry and thus sometimes difficult to slog through, yet it was still fascinating to read about the technique from the founder himself.

In Part III of this book, “21st Century Pilates Evolution,” authors Robbins and Van Heuit-Robbins begin providing an overview of how the Pilates method developed post-Joseph Pilates. They briefly review some of the most relevant first generation and other master Pilates instructions, along with their contributions to expanding the system. In particular, the authors focus on how Pilates exercises have evolved from the 34 classical matwork moves and exercises performed on the various in-studio Pilates apparatus to the inclusion of a wide variety of props in modern Pilates manifestations. Given this, Robbins and Van Heuit-Robbins present eight equipment-specific chapters, each featuring guidelines for practice, exercise instructions, and resource recommendations. Some of the props highlighted include the Pilates Magic Circle, weights, mini stability ball, elastic resistance, and unstable surfaces such as the foam roller. In the final two chapters, the authors review fusion exercises and how Pilates can enhance sports performance; they conclude the book a Glossary and Index.

Although the new material offered in this volume is fairly short (just over 70 pages), this book is a worthwhile investment for Pilates enthusiasts, as it provides a convenient reference manual, and I would recommend it.

REVIEW #3 on
4.0 out of 5 stars
It definitely has a place on any serious student and practitioner of Pilates’ shelf. August 4, 2012
By Alain B. Burrese TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE™ VOICE

If you look at the fitness section of most bookstores, you will see many books on Pilates. I mean, there are tons of them now. You can also find quite a few instructional DVDs teaching various Pilates programs. Want to know where it all started? Want to know how Pilates have developed since the beginning with a list of resources to further your study? Look no further. “Pilates Evolution: The 21st Century” by Joseph Pilates, Judd Robbins, and Lin Van Heuit-Robbins has the answers.

Yes, this book is by Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates exercise programs. How, you ask? I mean, Joseph Pilates lived from 1883 to 1967. This book contains authorized, copyrighted, original writings from Joseph Pilates. Both the 1934 edition of Joseph Pilates’ “Your Health” and the 1945 edition of Joseph Pilates’ “Return to Life through Contrology” are included. Reading these provides the foundation and history of this exercise system. They are both interesting reads, and though dated, still provide some basics in which to build an exercise program. When reading them, you must take into account when they were written.

The book then contains 10 short chapters on the evolution of the various exercise programs based on the original system. The authors briefly explain some of these evolutions, the key players, and provide a few sample exercises from these new routines. These include things such as using the magic circle, weights, doing seated exercises, using mini stability balls or elastic resistance, and so on. While these chapters only show a couple of exercises, they do provide many resources where you can learn complete routines in these areas. The resources, both books and DVDs, that are provided will be very beneficial to anyone wanting to further their studies and practice in any of these areas.

For the person who just wants to learn a simple Pilates routine, or wants to include some of the exercises into their health and fitness program, this might not be the first book I’d recommend. However, for the person who wants to get to the roots of the Pilates movement and learn what the founder had to say, and then see some of the directions the exercises took once he was gone, this is a great primer. I’d also recommend it for the resource sections. It definitely has a place on any serious student and practitioner of Pilates’ shelf.


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