The Bottom Line
- Excellent color photos
- Clear written instructions with extra notes on the photos
- Photo insets with tips on what not to do
- Extra sections relate Pilates to daily life concerns
- Conveys important insights about the Pilates approach to movement
- Some of the extra sections lack depth
- A distinctly feminine feel with female-only photos
- A comprehensive introduction to Pilates
- Includes extensive exercise instructions and workouts
- 3 Workout sequences for each level - beg, int, adv.
- Hardback Retail Price: $25.00
Guide Review - Book Review: Pilates Practice Companion, by Alycea Ungaro
Let me tell you what I like to see in a book about Pilates exercises: I like great photographs accompanied by clear, concise exercise instructions. When it comes to meeting that criteria, Alycea Ungaro's Pilates Practice Companion is top of the heap (yes, there is a heap).
This is a big, full-color glossy book and each exercise (there are more than 100) is beautifully documented by models who demonstrate each move accurately. There are also notes written on the photos pointing out important cues. One of my favorite touches is the photos that have been overlain with anatomical muscle and bone drawings, which give you a view of what is going on inside the body. I just love those.
Though you still need some in-person Pilates instruction, as a home practice book, Pilates Practice Companion is set up to take one from beginner to advanced level Pilates mat practice. It doesn't deal with equipment at all. The exercises are logically laid out in beginner, intermediate and advanced sections. For each level there are detailed instructions and photos for individual exercises as well as 3 workout sequences. Modifications are offered where appropriate, and there are small photos with notes on what not to do as well. Ungaro uses the classic Pilates sequence as a guide, but there are changes and additions. For the very detail oriented -- and this is a detailed book -- there are notes about goals and tracking ones progress that I don't find all that compelling, but might be useful to some. Overall, though, you could hardly ask for more in a home workout handbook.
The book opens with a good introduction to Pilates and the basics of Pilates movement. It covers the things I've come to expect in Pilates book introductions, but Ungaro does a more thorough, and definitely more personable, rendering than some. I like the way she talks directly to the reader, anticipating questions and details a novice will need to know. The requisite bits about Pilates history and Joseph Pilates are there - which are important lest we forget that Pilates came from the work of a real person. There is also a nice review on the benefits of Pilates and a good explanation of the Pilates principles, which Ungaro wisely integrates into the exercise instructions as well.
I'm not as sold on the last part of the book which is meant to help integrate Pilates into daily life. There are sections on Pilates at the office, Pilates and sex, Pilates and diet and so on. But Ungaro takes on large topics in a small space at the end of the book and I'm not sure there is enough information there to make these sections fully useful to the people they are speaking to. It doesn't matter. Those sections do have lots of good tips in them, and the point is that this is the best "how to" Pilates book to come out in a while. If you work well with book instruction, Pilates Practice Companion is a 5-star pick.