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The Pilates Body
by Brooke Siler

When it comes to Pilates, less is more - it's better to do a few precise moves than dozens of sloppy repetitions. The same could be said for this wonderful introduction to Pilates. With fewer than 200 pages, The Pilates Body is a slim volume, but every page contains valuable gems of information. Author Brooke Siler is a New York Pilates teacher and co-owner of Manhattan studio re:AB. She trained under Joseph Pilates' oldest living protégé, Romana Kryzanowska. Not only does Siler knows her stuff, she makes her points with the same exacting detail she undoubtedly uses when teaching her students.

The focus here is on mat work, which Siler points out was the initial movement system before the invention of the Reformer. Pilates history and the key elements to matwork are explained in short but comprehensive chapters before the exercises are introduced. The approach to the exercises is pure Pilates - sharp and meaningful, with all meat and no fluff. Each move is described step-by-step, and Siler offers a visual clue or two to help you get the form right, along with including an illustration to help you see what she means. (For example, on "Double Straight Leg Stretch," she writes, "Imagine your legs are attached to springs above your head," and the drawing shows a woman in the correct position, with a spring strapped to her ankle.) There are also step-by-step photographs of models performing each exercise, and a section called "The Inside Scoop" that contains the goals of each move, tips on form, dos and don'ts, and easier and more advanced variations. These exercises, from beginning to advanced, could not be explained more clearly in book form.

The Pilates Body is a valuable addition to your Pilates practice. When it comes to exercise instruction, no book can stand on its own - you need to see the moves in action, preferably face to face with a teacher who can correct your form. But this book is a great supplement to that, and it will bring a new dimension to your home Pilates practice. While Siler hasn't made any Pilates videos or DVDs to date, she does have an interactive learning kit that includes two CDs, instructional cards and more.

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