Book Review: The Pilates Bible

Authors: Lynne Robinson, Lisa Bradshaw, Nathan Gardner
Publisher: Firefly Books
Book Publication: 2010

As a fitness instructor, I am always on the lookout for current and comprehensive information about exercise methods. I was quite excited, then, to receive a copy of The Pilates Bible, the latest work from Pilates guru Lynne Robinson (in collaboration with fellow Body Control Pilates teachers and trainers, Lisa Bradshaw and Nathan Gardner).

Pilates was developed in the 1920s by Joseph H. Pilates. Drawing inspiration from the martial arts, Pilates believed that slow and controlled flowing movements, performed with thoughtful awareness, would provide a system of exercise to perfectly balance strength and flexibility. Supported by the latest medical research, The Pilates Bible is intended to provide a modern and practical all-in-one guide to this exercise system – one whose participant rate has reportedly increased by over 500 per cent in the last five years.

The Pilates Bible not only features complete mat work programs for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, but also three workout time period options within those levels: 20-30, 40-50, and 60-70 minutes.

Equipment, while not mandatory, is still an important element of the Pilates tradition, so the authors have included sections introducing two types, along with exercises demonstrating their use. We learn much about studio equipment like the Reformer, Cadillac, Chair and Barrel, as well as smaller equipment (suitable for home use) like stretch bands, inflatable balls, toning circles, foam rollers, and free weights.

Their extensive work in the Pilates method has shown the authors that this type of exercise has wide applications. With this in mind, they have presented information on how Pilates can help with such health conditions as joint pain, osteoporosis, heart health, and pregnancy. And in a separate chapter, they illustrate how Pilates principles can be beneficial when applied to work at the gym, housework, gardening, and repetitive manual labour.

The Pilates Bible’s format is as beautiful as it is reader-friendly. Each section incorporates a unique and eye-pleasing colour, with brilliant photography and clear and detailed text – resulting in an exceptional resource for beginners and professionals alike.

I was especially impressed with the ‘Watch Points’ at the end of each exercise. They succinctly explain how to perfect your technique, and how to avoid common errors. The striking photos also make it extremely easy to see what you should be trying to achieve with each exercise.

Whether you just want to learn about this wonderful exercise form, are a novice looking for additional guidance, or are an old hand hoping to increase your repertoire and skill level, this book will not disappoint.

The dictionary definition for ‘bible’ (spelled in lower case) is: any book, reference work, periodical, etc., accepted as authoritative, informative, and reliable. The Pilates Bible certainly meets all of these criteria, and lives up to hype that it is the best book on the subject to date.


Susannah Kent is a Toronto area Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instructor.

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