I knew very little about Pilates before ordering this book, only what I read here and there in magazine articles. This book was perfect for me because it gives a straightforward explanation of Pilates, the theory behind it and why it works for people of all ages and different levels of fitness. This is a large, oversized book, 11" x 8-3/4" and it has nice quality black & white photos of each exercise, along with clear explanations and notes on form and position. It also has suggestions of imagery or visualizations for each. I found the imagery very helpful in performing the exercises. There are sections on alignment, posture, and movement with drawings and photos of different skeletal parts and how they should be aligned to get the most out of the program.
The first section of exercises are Mat Work which covers 70 pages with one or two pages dedicated to each exercise. These can be done by anybody with just a yoga or Pilates mat. The next section is the Universal Reformer exercises. 101 pages are devoted to this. These are done on machines such as these that Amazon carries: Stamina AeroPilates Pro XP556, Stamina AeroPilates Pro XP 557 Home Pilates Reformer with Free-Form Cardio Rebounder, Stamina AeroPilates Performer 286 without Rebounder, or Pilates Allegro(R) Reformer, 14-inch. Some in this section use additional props along with the reformer. When I started reading this section I remember thinking, "Who would ever buy such a big and unwieldy contraction?" But then reading about some of the exercises that can be done on this piece of equipment and how many parts of the body that can be exercised really inspired me. I especially liked some of the stretching exercises which can target certain muscle groups that aren't always easy to stretch on your own. So a week later I ended up ordering this machine from an Amazon seller which should arrive this week or next: Stamina AeroPilates 700 Premier Reformer with Stand, Cardio Rebounder, Neck Pillow and DVDs. It's going to involve squeezing it in to a 'just big enough' part of the exercise room and stepping over it to get to other parts of the room, so I hope it's worth it.
The next section of the book covers the Cadillac machine. It covers 41 pages of exercise. This machine is large and more oriented to a Pilates studio than a home but for anyone who attends classes, this section could be very helpful. There are also sections for other equipment like the Wunda Chair, Barrels, Ped-a-Pul, Arm Chair and Magic Circle. The Magic Circle is a piece of equipment that almost everyone would have space and budget accommodate. There are 10 pages of exercise for this. Amazon lists several versions: Stamina Pilates Magic Circle, ProSource Pilates Resistance Power Dual Gripped Fitness Ring, 14-Inch and STOTT PILATES Fitness Circle Lite Power Pack. The last section of the book covers sample exercise routines with just mat work or with a couple of the machines.
This book is clearly written and inspiring. Most of the exercises look like anyone could do them at one level or another. If you get this book, be sure to read the first sections before the exercises because it gives some really good information.