Book reviews

Book Review: The Roll Model

Title: The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility and Live Better in Your Body
Author: Jill Miller
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
Availability: widely available, amazon
Reviewed by: Rebekah Le Magny

The Roll Model is a self-care book that teaches rolling sequences on rubber balls to use the body’s own self-healing mechanisms to relieve pain, increase circulation, reduce stress and improve breathing, posture and performance. The author, Jill Miller, is the creator of the Yoga Tune-Up and Roll Model Methods. While the Yoga TuneUp program combines self-massage with corrective exercises and stretches, the Roll Model method is not an exercise program per se, but more of a self-massage and breathing method. Ms. Miller has released several dvds, including the popular Yoga Tuneup RX series and, more recently, Treat While You Train. The latter, which the author created with Kelly Starett, the inventor of Crossfit, was released at approximately the same time as the Roll Model. While not marketed as a companion to Roll Model, it includes many of the same or similar rolling sequences. Still other sequences are available as short You-Tube videos. Ms. Miller has presented her techniques in many magazines and on television shows, such as Good Morning America and Oprah WInfrey’s show. She has developed a teacher training program and leads workshops and retreats throughout the world. An increasing number of gyms and yoga studios in the United States offer Yoga TuneUp classes.

The book begins with Ms. Miller’s personal story. She developed the Yoga TuneUp and the Roll Model methods while searching for a means to manage her own chronic pain and body/mind issues that began during her preteen years and haunted her through early adulthood. These issues manifested themselves through bulimia and later, the abuse of yoga and exercise. While in college, although she studied mind/body disciplines such as yoga, pilates, feldenkrais and shiatsu massage, she continued to struggle with bulimia. Ms. Miller finally won her battle with bulimia through the help of her mentor, Glenn Black, a movement, body-toning and yoga specialist, whom she met while working at the famed Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Unfortunately, after she moved away from New York, her issues resurfaced and she began to abuse her body through excessive exercise. She sought out other body therapists, but was unable to find one who had helped her as Black. She began to experiment on her own. These experiments evolved into the Yoga TuneUp Method, which enabled her to end the cycle of self-abuse against which she had struggled for many years. She integrated the method in her yoga classes and soon gained a reputation as someone who could help others reclaim control of their bodies and their lives as she had. Ms. Miller describes her teaching as « embodied anatomy », which she defines as « heightening one’s self-awareness of the body as an integrated and interrelated tool for mapping the experiences of the body’s parts, physiology and sense”.

The Roll Model is interspersed with a number of powerful and moving testimonies of real people (names and photos included) whose lives have dramatically benefitted from the method. One woman, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, was declared legally disabled and could no longer live on her own. She was even in danger of choking because of her throat rigidity. The balls enabled her to break up tissue adhesions that were causing the rigidity and to recover a large part of her mobility and autonomy. A pilates teacher struggling with immeasurable pain from lupus described how the balls gave her immediate and ongoing relief and helped her manage her disease. Another young woman tells of how the balls helped her recover from the effects of her battle with breast cancer and resulting hysterectomy and oophorectomy. A young man, suffering from Charcot Marie Tooth, a motor and neuropathology disease, which causes numbness of the limbs, could barely move, suffered from incontinence and was forced to take large amounts of medication to control his pain. With the method, he was able to partially reverse the numbness, remove his ankle and leg braces and wean himself off his medications. He eventually decided to participate in the Roll Model teacher training program. Some of the other testimonies include: a young woman who was able to overcome incontinence by using the ball on her pelvic muscles; a body builder who suffered from crippling pain resulting from multiple car accidents; a veteran whose back pain left him immobilized; a woman who donated part of her liver and was suffering from scar tissue buildup; a woman suffering from scleroderma that was changing the shape of her face; a rape victim; and a woman suffering from severe depression. One woman reversed thirty years of numbness in her knee within two weeks of using the balls. Kelley Starett describes his lifelong battle with asthma and how he learned to breathe properly by using the Coregeous ball.

The Roll Model balls come in four different sizes. They include the original Yoga TuneUp, the Plus and the Alpha balls, which are the same, but slightly larger. The fourth ball, the Coregeous Ball, is similar to the « Pilates Balls » that are on the market, inflatable through a straw, about the size of a child’s ball and very soft. The Coregous ball can be used on the stomach during breathing exercises. The author says that you can use other balls in a pinch, but then goes on to cite their disadvantages, ie. too hard or not sturdy enough. The Yoga TuneUp balls are softer and grippier (meaning they grip the skin, facilitating the massage of the superficial fascia just under the skin) than others and they become softer with use. They should be replaced every six months or so, depending on the frequency of use. The older ones can be used on more delicate body parts. I have used the Yoga TuneUp balls for a few years, before the book was released, and I tend to agree with the author about their superiority over tennis or lacrosse balls. I have, however, heard that the pink Spaulding and pinkie balls work well too.

In Chapter 4, the “Science section”, the author briefly describes fascia and what role it plays in the body. However, she is quick to point out that there is no real need to understand what she labels the « science stuff » to enjoy the benefits of the method. Your body will understand what is happening regardless of whether or not your brain understands. She does, however, give a brief overview of fascia, primarily citing Robert Schleip. She also includes an ultrasound diagnostic image of the fascia of a person after ninety seconds of rolling on the ball, stating that the fascial tissues appear “fluffed” “which may indicate an increase and slide and guide potential and mobility.” She doesn’t offer any wild, impossible to prove claims about what exactly the rolling is doing to the fascia, instead pointing out the results of the method and underlining the effect of massage on the thousands of sensory nerve endings in the fascia. Massaging enables the sensory nerves to relay more accurate messages to the brain, increasing the body’s proprioreception. Increased fascial proprioreception purportedly diminishes the perception of pain, while the converse also holds true – increased pain causes decreased proprioreception. The balls relieve tension and increase proprioreception, which diminishes pain and increases coordination, leading to better alignment and therefore posture, which in turn further reduces pain. Finally the author gives an even briefer overview, that she refers to as “the big picture take-away from this topic” (in bold) in order to make the science even easier to comprehend.

Chapter 5 brings us to the Anatomy Section. The book is a self-care book for « regular people » and not just movement professionals. Accordingly, the anatomy section is extremely simple and easy to understand. Ms. Miller uses a model skeleton and the book contains pictures where she points to the bones in question, which is much easier for a layperson to understand than an illustration. She uses colored illustrations to show some of the major muscles. The rolling sequences themselves include pictures of the bony landmarks and muscles relevant to each sequence.

After the anatomy lesson, the author presents the nine key Roll Model techniques, which she explains through photographs, a written description and an explanation that is entitled “what is happening physiologically”. Each technique is assigned an “icon”. The icons are used during the sequences. The techniques include sustained compression, skin-rolling/shear, stripping, crossFiber, pin and stretch, contract/relax, pin/spin and mobilize, ball plow and ball stack.

Chapter9 brings us to the actual rolling sequences. The seventeen sequences include a global shear warm-up, sequences for the lower body (feet, ankles, knees, hips and buttocks), the spine (lower back, upper back and ribcage), the shoulders to fingers, the head and neck and lastly, three sequences that she calls back, front and side seam sequences. The author also encourages the user to play around with the sequences and the techniques and to find what works best for him, and perhaps to invent some of his own. Each sequence begins with an “embody map”, with illustrations of the major muscles that will be addressed, and photos of Ms. Miller pointing to the relevant bony landmarks on the skeleton model. She next presents a check-in section, followed by the sequence itself, and then a recheck section. The sequences are exceedingly easy to understand, almost as easy as a dvd. Each sequence contains several exercises and each exercise has written and photo instructions. With two to fifteen color photographs presenting each exercises like a video reel, thereby eliminating the need for any guess work, the sequences are pretty much idiot proof.

While not inexpensive, you definitely get bang for your buck. From the anatomy to the science overview to the breathing and posture sections and the hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of photos and illustrations, I am at a bit of a loss to come up with anything the author left out. For those that complain that there is too much information, the user does not have to read every word in the book, although I would recommend going through it at least once. After a few sessions, there is no need to even read the instructions that accompany the sequences, because there is an icon that shows what technique to use and the photographs are very clear and detailed. Everything about this book is meticulously designed to make it user friendly, the many color photographs, the large print, the different typefaces and color titles, as well as the glossary of terms. There are also appendices with recommended reading and viewing, including the websites as blogs of Thomas Meyers, Sue Hitzmann and Katy Bowman).

Does it work? I bought the balls long before the book came out and found them very useful for managing my battle with piriformis syndrome. I use them almost daily. I also use them to lessen some shoulder tension and pain. My tendency is to just use them here and there where I feel pain (these days, pretty much everywhere – the joys of aging..) and not to use any of the suggested sequences. After reading the testimonies in the book, some of which were nothing short of miraculous, I was motivated to try some of the techniques that I might not have ever attempted, for the fingers and for the neck and jaw and for the diaphragm. I did the neck release when I woke up one morning barely able to turn my head and was surprised to regain most of my mobility almost immediately. I did not try the coregeous ball at first. When I finally got around to doing it for purposes of this review, I found lying on the ball to be fairly unpleasant at first, but it did bring awareness to the breath and lessen tension in the chest and ribcage. When I tried the other sequences in full, I was mildly surprised to realize how much tension and sensitivity I had in other areas. I say mildly surprised because, as a pilates teacher , I am well aware how a problem in the foot or the jaw can have repercussions elsewhere in the body. I think that this book definitely has a place in the library of anyone suffering from chronic pain, as well as anyone who regularly practices a sport. It is an excellent complement to a pilates practice and a good gift for friends or family. I brought a ball with me on vacation and let my mother in law try it on her arthritic hands. I will send her a set of balls because I don’t want to part with mine!

Book reviews

Book Review: The Breathing Book

Title : The Breathing Book – Good Health and Vitality Through Essential Breath Work
Author- Donna Farhi
Format : Paperback
Pages: 237
Availability : Widely available – amazon

Donna Farhi is a renowned yoga teacher and teacher trainer. Her experience and skill have made her a popular guest teacher and retreat leader throughout the world. She has authored four books including Yoga, Mind, Body and Spirit, Teaching Yoga, Bringing Your Yoga to Life and The Breathing Book. The Breathing Book is a bit different from other books on breathing. As Farhi explains, it is not a “how-to-do”manual but rather, a “how-to-undo”manual. We spend our lives constantly striving to achieve and accomplish, always trying to catch up (Farhi refers to this as the “hurry up bug”) We convince ourselves that we will take the time to relax later, always later. We are always “trying hard” in our lives. This is not the correct approach to breathing. Instead of trying hard to learn a specific technique of breathing, she suggests that we instead we learn to identify and remove the obstacles which obstruct our essential breath. It is more about uncovering and rediscovering than about learning something new.

Breathing seems simple. After all, we do it as soon as we are born. We breathe when we are sleeping. As simple an act as it may seem, breathing has a direct impact on every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. The quality of breath is essential to the quality of life. True, no one has to teach a baby how to breathe, but somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we have forgotten how to breathe correctly. And now, as adults, we must unlearn our unhealthy breath holding patterns and rediscover what we knew as small children.
The book begins with a number of exercises ranging from ten to thirty minutes. But these aren’t typical exercises. Farhi refers to them as inquiries – inquiries that the reader makes of his own body. First he must become conscious of the connection between breath and movement. Next he learns to become conscious of his own breathing patterns and identify any obstacles obstructing his natural breath. These inquiries are executed alone or with a partner, standing, sitting, supine, squatting…The book follows with a brief anatomy lesson, describing the primary respiratory muscles and the secondary respiratory muscles, and the role of the three diaphragms (thoracic, pelvic and vocal) in the act of breathing. A restriction in any of these diaphragms will prevent quality breathing. Farhi next describes common breath holding patterns: including reverse breathing, where the belly moves in on the inhalation and not, as it should, on the exhalation; chest breathing, where the abdomen is in a state of constant contracting, preventing the thoracic diaphragm from its downward journey; collapsed breathing; hyperventilation: throat holding; and breath grabbing; and frozen breathing. These holding patterns must be unlearnt.
Farhi proposes a number of gentle yoga stretches to relax the body and stretch the tight muscles that restrict the body from moving as it should during a full breath. She also includes several restorative yoga poses. These poses are designed to relax the body. Achieving deep relaxation allows the reader to “follow the lure of the breath”, not grabbing, but letting the breath come naturally and enjoying it. Farhi also includes a few traditional yoga breathing techniques, including Kapalabhati,,considered a cleansing breath in yoga, and alternate nostril breathing. She also includes breathing through a straw (breathacizer, anyone?). She provides some fun alternatives to breathing through a straw, including bubble blowing, chanting, singing or blowing through a musical instrument. Farhi also includes a number of exercises to be performed with one’s partner.
In the last part of the book, Farhi includes practice guides for specific problems, from asthma, to eating disorders to pain relief.

The Breathing Book is as much about mindfulness and living in the present moment as it is about breathing. As noted above, it is not a book that teaches us a correct way to breathe, but causes us to question ourselves, our bodies and how our lifestyle affects and perturbs our breathing and consequently, our well-being. It is not a book that provides answers, but one that asks questions. It is up to the reader to find his own answers. How does he breathe? What are the obstacles? How can he remove those obstacles?
Is this book for you? Perhaps I can help you answer that question by describing by my own experience. Performing some of the preliminary inquiries when I first purchased this book a few years ago led me to realize that I was holding my breath. A lot. We are supposed to have a natural pause at the end of every inhalation and exhalation, but we are not supposed to actually hold our breath for more than a few seconds. Additionally, I was holding my stomach in most of the time. Contracting one’s abdominals at all times prevents the diaphragm from descending as it should. This has a host of negative effects. I realized how difficult it was (and still is) for me to actually relax my stomach. Society conditions us to pull our stomach in, (perhaps to appear thinner?). I am able to relax my stomach muscles while performing breathing exercises in the privacy of my home, but not while I am out and about. ( Lest any of you feel “judgey”, come back and talk to me after you’ve had four kids!) A few years ago, I thought I had herniated a disk. I was determined to heal it on my own by holding my back very straight to give the disk the chance to heal and the herniation to be reabsorbed. Consequently, I held my back very straight, engaging my abdominals at all times. After about a month, I started experiencing nausea regularly. I assumed I had developed acid reflux . Both my parents and my brother suffer from it. I sadly resigned myself to giving up acid foods, chocolate, basically everything I love. Soon after, I experienced chest pain. For about five minutes, I actually thought I was having a heart attack. I don’t have any risk factors, but my father has heart disease. After a bit of research, I started doing some breathing exercises and relaxing my abdominal muscles. And lo and behold, all of my nausea and chest pains disappeared and have never returned since. I have resumed eating my beloved chocolate and drinking my green chai tea. Since that time, I have questioned everyone I encountered who suffered from a herniated disk and inquired as to whether they also had digestion problems. Almost everyone responded in the affirmative.

I will not say whether this book is for you, but I would suggest that you take a few moments to examine your own breathing. Does it flow freely and naturally or do you find yourself gasping for breath. Do you shoulders rise when you inhale? If so, it is possible that you are a chest breather, which causes you to use your secondary respiratory muscles, the scalene, trapezius, sternocleidomastoid and pecs as your prime movers, instead of the primary respiratory muscles, diaphragm, intercostals and abdominals. This can cause tension, neck and shoulder pain, headaches… My father, who as I mentioned has heart disease, is a chest breather. Just saying…. If you find that you are not breathing well, than this book could help you. The Breathing Book, unlike some of the other books on breathing that I have read, is not an intimidating read reserved for yogis and teachers. It is a book to keep by your nightstand, to reach for when you have a few minutes for the inquiries, a book to give to your eighty year old mother or your chronically stressed best friend. IS it for you? Well, you decide…

Book reviews

Book Review: Trail Guide to the Body

Title: Trail Guide to the Body: A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More
Author: Andrew Biel
Published: Fourth edition, 2010. However, there is a fifth edition, published in 2014. More on this later.
Format: Spiral-bound
Pages: 433, including indexes
Availability : widely available (purchased on Amazon)
Photos: No photos, but hundreds of color illustrations. Certain copies include a dvd. Purchasers of the fifth edition have a number of digital resources available to them.
Other related items available but not included: student workbook, flashcards, field guide, powerpoint, audio guide.
Description: Andrew Biel is a licensed massage therapist. According to his editorial description, he has served on the faculties of massage therapy colleges and taught cadaver studies. He is President of Books of Discovery, which is described on the Books of Discovery website as “an educational multimedia company, specializing in user-friendly musculoskeletal, palpatory, anatomy, and kinesiology tools for the manual therapy fields.” Trail Guide to the Body (let’s just call it “Trail Guide” for short) was first published in 1977 and has since been reissued several times. I am reviewing the fourth edition because that is the one I happen to own. The fifth edition, published last year, apparently includes an index of trigger point locations and pain patterns of over 100 muscles, which sounds quite interesting. If anyone has the newer addition, please let us know what you think. Trail Guide is recommended reading for certain state and federal licensing tests administered by various massage therapy boards and associations.
Trail Guide, like most anatomy books, begins in Chapter 1, Navigating the Body, by explaining and describing the different regions of the body, planes of movement (sagittal, frontal, transverse), the different types of movement, i.e. extension , rotation, etc. (later described for each region of the body) and the skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, nervous, and lymphatic systems. The rest of the book is broken down into six chapters, one for each body region – Shoulder & Arms, Forearm & hand, Spine & Thorax, Head, Neck & Face, Pelvis & Thigh and finally, Leg & Foot. Each chapter begins with topographical views. As the author states, knowing the “lay of the land” is important before embarking on any journey. Following are the subsections “Exploring the Skin & Fascia”, which guide the reader through mini explorations meant to be performed with a partner. Next are detailed illustrations of the bones and bony landmarks, called “trail markers”. The book provides several bony landmark trails in each chapter, the idea being that the reader will come to a much clearer understanding of the different structures of the human body and how these structures are connected if he is provided with a “trail”, hence the name of the book. Each page contains numerous illustrations, with step by step instructions for finding one’s way across the trail. After the bones subsection, each chapter proceeds to describe the muscles in each region – their actions, origin, insertion and nerve innervations, together with step-by-step palpitation instructions. Often the page contains a bubble description “When Do You Use Your ….”. The author provides examples that are easy for the reader to understand. For example, you use your suboccipitals when shampooing and your trapezius when holding a phone between your shoulder and ear.
Review: Trail Guide is a wonderful resource for manual therapists and movement experts such as pilates teachers. Although pilates teachers do not need to “talk anatomy” to their students, it is essential for them to have an understanding of the body’s structure and how these structures are connected and to be able to identify what they are seeing in their students. The book is very easy to understand. The illustrations are extremely clear (color helps – a lot) and the language used is quite simple and informal. The book also includes a pronunciation guide. For those of you who want to to know if, for example, the word “tubercle” is pronounced tu ber kl or tu ber kl, it is the former. At times, there is a hint of humor in the text. For example “ants and bees, both revered for their intelligence and diligence, have roughly 250 and 900 nerve cells, respectively, in their entire bodies. Humans, who do not always demonstrate such qualities, have an estimated 10,000,000,000 nerve cells in the brain alone.” The book is best read with a partner because it is intended to provide not only a visual but also sensory understanding of the body. However, even without a partner, at least for the purposes of a pilates teacher, it is very easy understand and having a partner, although preferable, is not essential. Unfortunately, no one in my family wanted to be the object of my palpitory studies (I wonder why). .
To Buy or Borrow: to buy.
Additional Information : a new book by the same author entitled “Trail Guide to Movement – Building the Body in Motion” is now available.

Book reviews

Book Review: Women’s Health Big Book of Pilates

Title : The Women’s Health Big Book of Pilates
Author: Brooke Siler and the Editors of Women’s Health
Publisher: Rodale
Year: 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 426
Availability: Widely available on amazon, etc.
Description and Review:
Brooke Siler is the founder of the extremely successful studio, re:AB Pilates, in New York City, a bestselling author (The Pilates Body, The Pilates Body Kit, Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge and her most recent book, The Pilates Health Big Book of Pilates). She has also created several pilates dvds. Before I review her most recent book, I feel that I should admit to being a little biased. My interest in pilates was first sparked after reading an article about pilates in Vogue Magazine in the 80’s that featured Brooke and actress/model Michelle Hicks. The Pilates Body was my first pilates book purchase, long before I had ever taken a pilates class. I also have Brooke’s other books. Because I have something of a pilates and wellness book obsession, I logically bought The Big Book of Pilates as soon as it became available. I was skeptical however, that it could possibly contain anything new. After all, there are now thousands of pilates books on the market (an amazon search yields 6,858 results ; while some of those may be repeats, that is still a lot of books). Well, I was wrong. I was excited to find new inspiration, particularly for my home workouts. Sometimes, however, life gets in the way, even of pilates. Last year, I bought a house, sold a house and moved my family of six and all our stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. More stuff than a family of six and possibly a developing country should have, including a hell of a lot of books. And so my home workouts suffered and my library was in a state of disarray. But now that things have settled down and that I been able to go through the book in greater detail. I am once again excited about it.
This book is called the Big Book of Pilates with reason. Not so imposing in size, it its 426 pages are absolutely crammed with information, a surprising amount of information. There are over 263 exercises in the book, at least according the cover. Now I confess that I did not go count them all individually (you are welcome to do so ), but I am willing to believe it. The first few chapters are devoted to a description of pilates, a brief biography of Joseph Pilates, an explanation of pilates terms, safety considerations, a question and answer section (Brooke answers the question that every pilates teacher inevitably gets asked – “what is the difference between pilates and yoga,” as well as others, such as whether pregnant or injured people do pilates, what to wear, etc.). I even learned that Joseph Pilates’ niece, Mary Pilates, pronounces the name “Pilates” differently than what I thought to be the correct pronunciation. The book contains photos of the large and small pilates apparatuses (Gratz) and a section on the piIates “elders”, as they have come to be known, with the ones that everyone knows, Romana, Carola, Kathy Grant, Ron Fletcher, Jay Grimes, Lolita San Miguel, Mary Bowen and Mary Pilates, but also Bruce King and Bob Seed. It also includes a ten page section on nutrition entitled Pilates for Your Plate. The writing style is informal and motivating. The format is also designed to motivate, nice glossy pages, hundreds of beautiful color photos, detailed instructions, with diagrams and arrows and other comments accompanying the photos
The mat series is divided into three levels, not the classic three levels that we may be used to seeing, but instead something rather similar to how a teacher would structure a class. Each level has a starter section, a main section and suggested endings, including work on the wall, standing exercises, arm weights exercises. Included are also instructions on transitions and some fresh takes on the classic exercises, such as squat thrusts, jump through to the hundred transition, up-stretch combo. There is even a special section on pushups and planks, which includes a lot of fun variations, such as spider planks, plank jacks, and elephant planks. Each level ends with a page showing the entire sequence for quick reference. The pushup section is followed by a section entitled archival starters and endings and includes some standing and balance work.
Chapter 7 of the book brings us to the home studio section of the book. This part shows us how we can use props to create a complete and inexpensive home studio. The props include the magic circle, arm weights, toe corrector, elastic bands, ankle straps, handles, steps, large ball and medium ball. There is also a homemade toe corrector and something interesting called a tensatoner, (which I have, unfortunately been unable to locate on the internet). Elastic bands and a door stopper, can, for example, be used to replicate many of the reformer and cadillac based exercises, including the arm series, rowing, kneeling arm springs, swakate and many, many others. Following the band section is the ball section. Lest the purists start to grumble, Brooke clearly states that the balls are not part of the classical pilates system; in fact, her exact words are “let me say loud and clear that there was never such a thing as a Pilates ball.” However, as she demonstrates, there are many fun ways to integrate the balls into an at-home pilates workout if one doesn’t have a reformer or Cadillac, chairs or barrels on hand. All of the exercises shown are takes on the classical exercises, including the push-through and the rollback from the cadillac, the saw from the mat, the swan from the ladder barrel and the swimming from the spine corrector, as well as several others. The triad ball stands in for the small barrel in several exercises, such as the helicopter and the bicycle. Stackable steps are used in place of the chairs for exercises such as footwork, going up and pushups. The aforementioned tensatoner is used in place of a foot corrector, can also stand in for a magic circle and is also used with the steps in the wunda-chair-like exercises. Finally, there is also a section devoted to the magic circle.
Following the props section is a chapter called Pilates by Posture that briefly summarizes the most common postural problems (i.e. flatback, Kyphotic-lordotic posture, swayback and scoliosis) and recommends exercises to correct them. Next, the book includes a chapter, Pin-Point Pilates which targets particular areas of the body, abs, back, , glutes, arms, thighs, legs, and feet. Following Pin-Point Pilates is Pilates by Purpose, where the reader takes a quick test to choose a fitness goal, cardio, and calorie burn, breathing and endurance, flexibility and mobility and strength and stability. Each goal has a suggested workout plan. The subsequent chapter is entitled Pilates by Pursuit, and includes the exercises most appropriate for running, swimming and cycling. The last chapter, Pilates RX, suggests exercises to ease chronic aches in the back, neck, knees and shoulders. Finally, there are two pages devoted to resources: continuing education, online classes, clothing, books, dvds and accessories.
To borrow or to buy: definitely buy. As I mentioned above, I bought this book because I loved Brooke Siler’s previous books. I was certain, however, that, with the multitude of pilates books now available, this would be a rehash of the same old information. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong, a rare thing (just kidding. It is only rare for me to admit to being wrong). Not only would I recommend The Big Book of Pilates to my students who cannot come in more than once a week or who are off on vacation for months at a time (as the French are known to do in the summer), but I would also recommend it to teachers for their own at-home workouts, for newbie teachers to help them structure their classes and even to veteran teachers to freshen and spice up their work. The book has so much information that there really is something for everyone.