Pilates by Rael Isacowitz Book Review

For a long while I didn’t pick up Pilates by Rael Isacowitz because I made an incorrect assumption that it was just a technical manual. While researching a topic regarding Pilates, I turned to the book for reference and found that I was quite mistaken in my assumption. Not only did I find the information I was seeking, I stumbled into a gem of a book.

In the Introduction section Isacowitz explains that the book is geared towards Pilates professionals and serious students of the Pilates method with emphasis of further understanding Pilates and its benefits. He goes on to note that although the Pilates method has evolved since Joseph and Clara Pilates first developed Contrology, Isacowitz himself strives to maintain the essence of the original Pilates’ work while still being open to what he refers to as the “evolutionary process.”

Isacowitz studied with Kathy Grant, a first-generation Pilates teacher in the early 1990s but had, by that time, practiced Pilates for over 10 years. He has since developed Body Arts and Science International (BASI) a well-known and respected organization that teaches Pilates to professionals.

The book is well organized and is easy to follow. The first three chapters discuss Pilates principles, the mind-body connection, the body itself, alignment and posture. Chapters 4-11 are broken down by work based on which piece of equipment (Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Step and Ladder Barrels, Ped-a-pul, Arm Chair) or small apparatus (Magic Circle) is discussed. Within each chapter, exercises are given with notation on level of difficulty, which muscle group(s) is the focus, the objectives of the exercise, imagery as well as a brief description of benefits and modifications. As an example of imagery, in the Supine Spine Twist exercise (p47) it says:

“Imagine the pelvis turning like a doorknob, with the pelvis, knees, and feet as one unit rotating fluidly from side to side.”

The imagery is nice and the descriptions can help instructors with cueing techniques. Additionally, the pictures are helpful and do provide the reader with enough visuals to assist in fully comprehending the exercise.

Chapter 12 offers Sample exercise routines. This chapter discusses how to sequence the exercises as well as adapting exercises to special populations.

This book is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of Pilates and it is an invaluable tool for Pilates professionals. Rael Isacowitz’s book, Pilates, can be purchased at Amazon.com.