The Bottom Line
- Includes a wonderful introduction to movement analysis and the principles of Pilates
- Illustrations are clear - showing muscle groups as well as choreography
- Exercise descriptions include choreography, cues, and notes
- Highly detailed and well written
- Offers customizable workout sequences
- It is difficult to see relative distributions of weight and muscle tension in line drawings
- 45 Pilates exercises are explained through illustrations and detailed instruction
- By Rael Isacowitz and Karen Clippinger
- Published in 2011 by Human Kinetics
- $19.95 -- available through many retail sources
Guide Review - Review: Pilates Anatomy by Rael Isacowitz and Karen Clippinger
If I were to choose one word to describe Pilates Anatomy, I might pick generous. In it, Rael Isacowitz and Karen Clippinger take us through all of Joseph Pilates' mat exercises from Return to Life Through Contrology; revealing them in layers through illustration and finely tuned written explanations.
Both Isacowitz and Clippinger have extensive experience in Pilates and kinesiology and that grounds Pilates Anatomy in the depth of their understanding of the anatomical foundations of the exercises. I am especially impressed by the technical cues and exercise notes. This is where this anatomy book goes beyond the anatomy of "here are the muscle groups you need to make this shape" to the kinesiology of "here is how the muscles move this exercise."
Though sophisticated, Pilates Anatomy is written with a user friendly -- even beginner friendly -- tone. However, the beginners I see liking this book are those who either have very scientific minds or come in from exercise science disciplines. Anatomy and kinesiology students will love it. So will physical therapists. Of course, the people who will appreciate it most are Pilates fans.
Students of Pilates who want to go deeper into the exercises, especially teachers and teachers in training, will find this book to be a wonderful reference source. The exercises, grouped by type and within the types by level, are thoroughly explained. There are also beginner through advanced exercise sequences at the end. Pilates' sequence from Return to Life is not included. I'm sure Pilates Anatomy will become a required book for many Pilates instructor programs, as Isacowtiz' book, Pilates, has.
The illustrations in Pilates Anatomy are good, quick references for the muscle groups involved in the exercises, and for basic choreography. They show the target and support muscles in differing colors which is helpful, and each muscle is labeled. But there are compromises with illustrations.
For the most part, the illustrations only show the top layer of muscles. We rarely see, for example, the internal obliques or transversus abdominus. I suppose that could make the diagrams too complicated for the size of the book (wish list: big and glossy next time). Also, it is difficult with line-drawing to show how weight is falling, the dynamic tension in an exercise, or in a few instances, the integration of shoulder girdle and core. These are far from deal breakers. The written explanations are what make this book extraordinary.
Pilates Anatomy is part of a series of exercise anatomy books published by Human Kinetics. They are also the publishers of Yoga Anatomy. Pilates Anatomy has a similar look and feel, though I think it is more detailed. I am delighted to have a Pilates-specific anatomy book that explains Pilates mat exercises with so much care and insight. Highly recommended.