Excerpt from The Pilates Body by Brooke Siler, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Pilates Body

The Ultimate at-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening, and Toning Your Body--without Machines

by Brooke Siler

The Pilates Body
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    Jan 2000, 208 pages

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What Is Pilates?

The Pilates® method of body conditioning is a unique system of stretching and strengthening exercises developed over ninety years ago by Joseph H. Pilates. It strengthens and tones muscles, improves posture, provides flexibility and balance, unites body and mind, and creates a more streamlined shape.

At a time when the fitness industry is tripping over itself to create new, innovative trends, the Pilates method, with more than nine decades of success, stands out as a tried-and-true formula of wisdom and unwavering results. Pilates was developed to create a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy life, and people are ready to heed its message of balance.

Whether because of a new consciousness or an intense dissatisfaction with the results of trendy exercise programs, in the past five years there has been a tremendous surge in the mind-body focus movement. People are beginning to realize how inefficient the exercises of the 1980s really were. We may have bought into the no-pain-no-gain mentality, but ultimately that led us to spend too much of our precious spare time chained to the gym. We now realize that while exercise should be an important part of our lives, it should add to and not take away from our enjoyment of a full life. With Pilates, specifically the matwork, we can minimize the amount of time spent in a gym or in front of an exercise video, but maximize the results achieved from a full-body workout. The matwork teaches us that the body is the finest and only tool necessary for achieving physical fitness.

Our old exercise regimes are failing us for another reason: They are based on isolating muscles and working each area of the body individually rather than treating the body as the integrated whole it is. The poor physical condition many of us are in today comes from the imbalance of engaging in complicated, inefficient exercises that isolate certain body parts while neglecting others. If our goal in exercising is to balance our bodies, improve circulation, reduce stress, improve endurance, look better, and feel great, then wouldn't it stand to reason that we should utilize the one method that for over nine decades has proven its ability to achieve all these things?

The Pilates philosophy focuses on training the mind and body to work together toward the goal of overall fitness. Although born in a completely different era, Joseph Pilates understood the physical and mental pressures of a busy schedule. He sought to reeducate us to work our bodies with the efficiency of performing our daily tasks in mind. Pilates believed that his method would propel people to become more productive both mentally and physically. For this reason the Pilates matwork is designed to fit into the physical and time constraints of the individual without diminishing its comprehensive elements.

Pilates began developing his exercise system in Germany in the early 1900s. Plagued by asthma and rickets as a child, Pilates' method sprang from his determination to strengthen his frail and sickly body. He called his method "The Art of Contrology," or muscle control, to highlight his unique amovement of your body in a way that is both efficient and extremely enjoyable. It is important that you understand the role you play in all of this. It's all about you. What you put in is what you'll receive, no more and no less.

Remember that with the power of your mind you can bring anything to light, so see your goal and then work to achieve it. This book will serve as a tool to help you along the path, but remember that it is your dedication to yourself that ultimately makes it all possible.

Good luck, and above all else . . . enjoy yourself!

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Excerpted from The Pilates Body by Brooke Siler Copyright© 2000 by Brooke Siler. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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