EasyVigour Back Care Basic Book Review Book Review: Rael Isacowitz: Pilates -
Your Complete Guide to Mat Work and Apparatus Exercises

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  • "Five Star" Amazon.com reviews.
  • Brilliant presentation of the Pilates Philosophy.
  • Thoughtful and Compassionate teacher.
  • Comprehensive coverage of exercises on the Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda-Chair, Arm Chair, Step Barrel, Barrel Ladder, Pedipul and Magic Circle. (First time ever outside of high cost training manuals).
Contents, this Page...
Foreword by Pilates Elder Kathy Grant
Rael Isacowitz and the Book "Pilates"
Reviews: Pilates, the Book
Reviews - Pilates 3-Pack
Comment, Chapter 1

Foreword by Pilates Elder Kathy Grant
When I first met Rael in Santa Fe, NM, in 1991 the Pilates community was indeed a small entity. Upon the recommendation of John Claude West, who had studied with me and was running his own studio in New York, I was invited to teach a workshop on the wunda chair, a Pilates apparatus that I had worked on a lot with Joseph Pilates. Until then, I had not been consulted for professional advice by the Pilates community. The gathering in Santa Fe was a breakthrough, first and foremost, in recognizing the first generation of Pilates teachers and also in the sharing of information and drawing on our collective experience and expertise.

Following a double knee surgery I was guided to Mr. Pilates by Pearl Lang, the renowned dancer and choreographer. He used the wunda chair extensively for my knee therapy as he felt I would particularly benefit from working on this apparatus. I received vast amounts of information and practiced primarily on the wunda chair for rehabilitation. I went on to develop my own repertoire and continued to use the wunda chair in my teaching at Henri Bendel from 1973 to 1988. I still use it in my teaching today, including the Pilates program I run for the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

When I entered the studio in Santa Fe, I was immediately surrounded by a group of seasoned professionals who had come from far and wide, hungry for information and enthusiastic about spending time with me. I noticed a man in the group, and when I asked for a volunteer to demonstrate some of the work he eagerly jumped up.

[Rael on the Wunda Chair... "changed his career"]

He got on the wunda chair and started demonstrating. I immediately recognized that he was an accomplished mover and that he knew Pilates well. As I started prodding and poking, making intricate adjustments to his alignment and movement, I could see a look of astonishment cross his face. The young male ego! This made me chuckle inside. He was clearly strong, but he relied too much on his strength and athletic ability rather than on his core. We proceeded to work for several hours together as I taught, demonstrated, adjusted, and corrected. I respected his openness to learning and his humility in the presence of another teacher. That workshop was a pivotal point in the evolution of Pilates. From that point on the wunda chair, which had become all but obsolete, boomed in popularity. Rael has often expressed to me that our meeting changed his career. It set him on a path of inner exploration and self-assessment.

[He discovered how to work from within...]

His work changed and his teaching changed; he discovered how to work from within. Rael and I went on to become, above all else, good friends. I am now regarded as one of the Elders of the Pilates community, and Rael as a world-renowned teacher and a leader in his own right. He has developed a fine teacher training program, Body Arts and Science International, to which he invited me to serve as honorary advisor. Back in 1991 Rael requested that I conduct a workshop at his center in Southern California. I made a promise to him that I would do it, but I could not say when. Thereafter, on every occasion we met, he would remind me of my promise. It took 14 years for me to fulfill it.

[Rael performs the work with unique mastery...]

In 2005 I came to Southern California from New York to give a workshop at On Center Conditioning. Although Rael also taught, the students got to witness their mentor being guided by his mentor. This in itself was a valuable lesson, possibly more valuable than the work itself. Rael performs the work with unique mastery, and he certainly moves from within. At the same time he demonstrates an ever-present youthful desire to continue learning and growing. We need to keep the lineage of Pilates alive, preserving the past and respecting the future, upholding the values and principles of this system-and few have done as much toward that end as Rael. He is the male that Mr. Pilates wished for to continue his work.

Kathy Stanford Grant
First-generation Pilates teacher, Pilates Elder

Rael Isacowitz and the Book "Pilates"
For more than 16 years I have wanted to commit my work as a teacher and student of Pilates into words, yet each time I attempted to do so the enormity of this system of physical and mental conditioning overwhelmed me. I knew that in order to offer something profound and valuable to Pilates enthusiasts I needed more knowledge and experience. So back to the studio I went, to master the repertoire of movements, to explore the work further, and to teach another few thousand sessions. This process of ever-expanding education spanned five continents and more practice hours than I could ever recall.

By 1990 I had already been doing Pilates for 10 years. I had earned a bachelor's degree from the Wingate Institute of Physical Education in Israel, danced professionally, and completed my master's degree in dance studies in England. I had been an avid competitive athlete since my youth and had practiced yoga since my early teens. Yet endeavoring to master Pilates felt like learning to crawl and walk again. This humbling process, which taught me how to move with an ease and flow that I had never before experienced, inspired me-and at times frustrated me. Apparently I had embarked on a lifelong journey of learning and practice that would deepen my understanding of movement and offer me a path to physical and mental well-being.

The time it has taken me to prepare to write this book makes the product well worth the wait. Not only has my own body of work, knowledge, and experience expanded exponentially, but Pilates has become a household name, and the number of people who practice it worldwide has grown exponentially. As a result, the demand for welltrained teachers has also increased. My educational organization, Body Arts and Science International, now conducts courses in 14 countries. Joseph Pilates had dreamed of universal recognition and growth and believed it could happen; yet even in his most ambitious dreams, he could not have envisioned the extent of the popularity of the Pilates method that we witness today. He wanted to see his method (which he called Contrology) taught in every school because he believed it could affect society in a positive way. He wanted the medical profession to embrace the physical and mental implications of his work on general well-being. His dream would come true in several respects. Today many of his principles and concepts are widely recognized. He has touched society as a whole in a positive way, and the medical profession is beginning to recognize the value in his system. I have always proclaimed that if everyone on Earth did Pilates mat work every day, we would live in a far better world-it simply makes you feel so good!

Joseph Pilates died, by many accounts, a disillusioned man. One need only read his book Your Health, in which he expresses his disdain for the medical profession and people's close-mindedness. I often ponder the tragedy that he and his wife, Clara, didn't live to witness the growth of the method to such mammoth proportions. Yet the spirit of their teaching lives on, and I feel a deep personal responsibility to uphold their work and its integrity to the highest of standards. I hope this book makes a valuable contribuation to keeping the flame going.

Pictured Below: There are over 900 quality pictures in "Pilates").

The Pilates Step Barrel
The Pilates Step Barrel

The Pilates Cadillac
Pilates Cadillac

The Pilates Ladder Barrel
The Pilates Ladder Barrel

The Pilates Wunda Chair
The Wunda Chair

The Pilates Ped-a-pul
Pilates Ped-a-pul

The Pilates Reformer
Pilates Reformer

The Pilates Arm Chair
Pilates Arm Chair

Rael Isacowitz -Thoughtful and Compassionate Teacher
Rael Isacowitz Pilates Master Teacher
Reviews at Amazon.com...

Reviewer: Thomas J. Lynch Jr. (May 6, 2007 )

I love this book! It is helping me with my work on my reformer.

By E. Lord (Danbury, CT USA, April 2, 2007)

I am a personal trainer and pilates instructor. I am currently getting my certification in apparatus and I came across this book. It is an absolute must for an instructor's library. It's organized beautiful, is comprehensive, with great imagery,cuing, and indepth essays that are easy to understand for the professional. By far, the best pilates book out there...and you can't beat the price for the wealth of knowledge.

A Must Have Pilates Resource
By Tracy Vision (March 23, 2007 Las Vegas, NV USA)

If you practice Pilates your instructor can only guide you so much. To get the most out of your practice, you need to understand for yourself what the objectives of each exercise are, what form specifics to focus on, what visualization to use to achieve that perfect rep. "Pilates" by Rael Isacowitz will give you those tools.

Now, not only can you listen to your instructor, you can listen to that little voice in your own head to help you get the most from your efforts. Rael's Imagery cues for each exercise have been perfected over his many years of practice and teaching, and are incredibly helpful, whether you are a Pilates student or a teacher. Students who practice in a Pilates studio spend a lot of time on the apparatus and I love that equipment work is included in this book, unlike so many books which focus solely on the mat work. The number and variety of exercises in this book will ensure your workouts are never the same (just one of the things I love about Pilates!) and they are well organized, making it easy for you to design your own (or your client's) workout. Sample fundamental, intermediate, and advanced mat and apparatus workouts are given in the back of the book.

Whether a student or a teacher, you will find yourself referring again and again, to this wonderful resource.

The Only Pilates Book You Will Need for a Beginner to Intermediate Class
By R2D2 "R2D2" (USA, March 19, 2007 )

Pilates by Rael Isacowitz is the best written Pilates Reference I have ever read. I have been practicing for about 12 years and teaching for 4 years. This is a must have book for teaching and the only book you will need, if you are just beginning your practice. He is concise with his material and I like his descriptions and cues for imagery. I am looking forward to his next book. You will not be disappointed.

Pilates - Rael Isacowitz,
By Joe H. R. Wilson "Big Joe" (Norway, March 18, 2007 )

Well writen and illustrated. Very complete and a good resource for someone who is new to Pilates.

My favorite pilates source so far
By pilatesnobuff (ny, March 1, 2007)

This summarizes everything I have learned about Pilates from a variety of books, courses, teachers... I am a certified instructor and find this to include the best and the most information, a great wholistic review for me, so detailed yet clear, simple yet profound. Also, the info has an openness to it that I have not experienced thus far. I wonder how much of it is lost on your "average practitioner", not so much because of the prose itself, but in the sense of one's body being able to digest what is presented to them--in other words, is this a teacher's book? In any case, the price is NOT to be beat. All in all, good stuff!

Rael Pilates (DVD) 3-Pack
By Gail J (Pennsylvania)

I think this is a great, basic pilates video. No equipment to purchase. Rael is very soothing to listen to. I think it is a good challenge.

Webmaster's Comment, Chapter 1 - "Enhancing the Mind and Body"
This discourse on the Pilates Principles (Rael lists three "Higher Principles" and Ten "Movement Principles"), is far and away the best I have read. The upside of Pilates is that it is the most time efficient, comprehensive and safe exercise system that there is. The downside is that you have to learn the language and philosophy before you get the exponential gains. Buy the book. Read and reread this chapter alone. You will have found something "Better than Rubies" (Proverbs 8:11).

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Bruce Thomson