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My Favorite Books About Pilates

October 20, 2015 by Bob Hannum

Return to Life Through Contrology

By Joseph Pilates

One of 2 books written by him. First published in 1945, it's short with complete instructions and illustrations for his original 34 mat exercises. Pilates himself demonstrates each one. He also suggests starting with just 10 minutes of exercise.

I love this book, but contrary to many of my respectedPilates Book colleagues I do not believe it is necessary to read this or Joe's other book below to fully understand Pilates exercises. I believe Joe would agree!

It's a wonderful historical document and a must-read for any Pilates teacher who wants to know the roots of this amazing workout!

Your Health

Joe Pilates' other book.Pilates book

What I find particularly fascinating about this book is that many of the health warnings and solutions that Joseph Pilates speaks about in this book are very much applicable to today!

But as I say above I do not believe this or the above book are necessary in order to understand Pilates exercises and I believe Joe would agree. He often told students that the most important thing is to breathe and do the exercises!


High Intensity Pilates - How to Transform Your Workout to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

by Bob Hannum                                                                                 High Intensity Pilates

I feel uniquely qualified to be teaching you not only Pilates but how to add HIIT (high intensity interval training) to your Pilates workout. I was taught by the Pilates Elder Mary Bowen and have been teaching mat Pilates for 40 years. Most importantly I've made it my mission to teach this marvelous method simply just as I believe Joseph Pilates originally intended. 'Simple' is not the word for Pilates these days and I've been reminding my colleagues that as Einstein once said, if you can't say it simply you don't understand it well enough! Here is Pilates instruction that's easy-to-follow, quick-to-learn and safe for any body type or age or fitness level.

HIIT is a proven exercise technique with amazing benefits. I show you how you can easily add it to your Pilates routine (and other exercise routines) without any special instructions or equipment.

Plus I teach you over 50 mat exercises and show you the secret to adding cardio to Pilates. This instruction is provided in text, video and photos for maximum clarity.

The Complete Book of Pilates for Men: The Lifetime Plan for Strength, Power, and Peak Performance

by Daniel Lyon, Jr.

This is what I use, and it's the only Pilates book I use! It's that great! It's my favorite resource on mat Pilates.

It's about time that someone in the Pilates world challenged the prevailing myth - mostly among men who have never tried it - that Pilates is some kind of special exercise for women, or that it's too easy.

In 4 decades of teaching and practicing Pilates, I have seen quite a few publications on the subject, and this
Pilates for Men is by far the best (besides my own!). Lyons should have titled it for men as well as women. In an email from Lyons, he agrees that the book is applicable to both sexes, but he wanted to focus on men who are generally underrepresented in the Pilates world. And this is one of the reasons I so enjoy this book - Lyons presents many difficult and challenging exercises, reinvigorating my own advanced practice.

It’s easy to read, with detailed diagrams, clear instructions, and careful attention to safeguarding against injury.

Lyons presents the original Pilates moves. Few – even among teachers of Pilates – remember that Joseph Pilates first developed the mat exercises, then later developed apparatus for those whose physical injuries and limitations made it too difficult to do the mat routine. This is not to criticize or discourage the machines or the evolution of Pilates by teachers who add new moves and props, or combine techniques such as yoga (Yogalates), Zumba (Zumbalates), tango (Tangolates) and even boxing (Piloxing). Lyons freely adds advanced moves to each original exercise as well as entire sections on props such as bands and the magic circle.

Pilates is the Einstein of fitness. He set the stage for an exercise method with more benefits than any other exercise technique. He created exercises to strengthen the core that are unrivaled. His principles of core strength are now standard practice among fitness trainers and physical therapists worldwide. Lyons honors the Pilates tradition with what amounts to the Bible of Pilates mat exercise. But don't just take my word for it - check out other reviews.

It’s all you need whether you're a beginner and want to explore Pilates on your own, or an experienced teacher looking to challenge your practice. A must-addition to any Pilates library.


The Pilates Pamphlet


A reprinted and updated version of the original pamphlet issued in 1957 by Frederick Rand Rogers and Joseph H. Pilates.

This new issue includes:

  • an exact copy of the original pamphlet Return To Life Through Contrology
  • the "representative list" of some of the Pilates students and an interview with someone from that list
  • a brief bio of Frederick Rand Rogers
  • some of his widow's recollections of Pilates
  • background on how the pamphlet was created
  • a biography of John Terken, the artist who made a bust of Joe Pilates featured on the back of the original pamphlet
  • and what we believe is a never before seen photo of Joe Pilates.


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