Review of "Pilates Anatomy"

By Rael Isacowitz and Karen Clippinger
Human Kinetics, 2019
Review by Beth Cholette, Ph.D. on Dec 31st 2019
Pilates Anatomy

Pilates Anatomy, Second Edition is an updated version of the manual originally released by authors Rael Isacowtiz and Karen Clippinger back in 2011.  Isacowitz is a Pilates instructor who trained under several "first generation" Pilates teachers (i.e., those who studied directly under Joseph Pilates himself) and founded Body Arts and Science International (BASI) Pilates.  Co-author Karen Clippinger has a master's degree in exercise science and is a professor emerita at California State University-Long Beach.  As noted in the Preface, together Isacowitz and Clippinger have more than 80 years combined expertise.

This book follows the same format as the first edition, serving as a comprehensive user's guide.  It provides an in depth look at the mechanics involved in Pilates matwork while offering a thorough introduction to the discipline itself.  Applicable anatomical concepts are reviewed to enhance the reader's understanding of functional movement.  Similar to other books in the Human Kinetics "anatomy" series, clear illustrations are utilized throughout, with every exercise accompanied by multiple graphics highlighting relevant the muscles.

The chapter layout mirrors the first edition.  Chapter 1 opens with the six key principles of Pilates (breath, concentration, center, control, precision, flow).  In Chapter 2, there is a discussion of the spine and alignment; this chapter details the various regions and major movements of the spine.  Chapter 3 serves as a last introductory chapter and provides an analysis of joints, muscles, and the types of movements involved with each.

Chapters 4 through 9 focuses on specific Pilates mat exercises.  These are divided into foundational moves, abdominal work, flexible spine moves, functional spine moves, and core work.  The authors note that they have tried to provide the original exercise names first used by Joseph Pilates in his book Return to Life Through Contrology (alternate names are given in parentheses).  The difficulty level of each exercise is listed as fundamental, intermediate, or advanced.  Step-by-step "Execution" instructions are provided, with supplementary information on technique, "personalize your practice" variations (a change from "modifications" in the prior edition), and other notes.  Finally, the targeted and accompanying muscles are listed as well as highlighted in the illustrations.

The most expanded section of this new version appears to be Chapter 4, "Foundation for a Mat Session."  In addition to enlarging the graphics, the authors have expanded on the on the personalization information, offering modifications, variations, and progressions.  The final chapter, "Customizing Your Pilates Program," has been updated from cluttered charts in the earlier edition to more easy-to-follow graphic sequences depicting fundamental, intermediate, and advanced Pilates programs.  These and similar revisions make this new edition 60 pages longer than the original.

Overall, Pilates Anatomy, Second Edition seems to be useful update, providing a user-friendly and yet scientifically informative overview of Pilates matwork.  One shortcoming that this book shares with the first edition is the lack of an index, which would have increased its usefulness as a follow-along manual (there is an "Exercise Finder" organized by chapter at the end).  But overall, this is an excellent revised resource on the musculature related to Pilates movement, and I would definitely recommend it.


© 2019 Christian Perring


Christian Perring teaches in NYC.


Contact Us

Beacon Behavioral Health
1 Santa Maria Dr., Ste 300
Columbus, OH 43215


powered by centersite dot net