Book Review: Ageless Pilates

As a Pilates and Fitness teacher for the last 21 years, I have developed two seemingly at-odds specialties: rehabilitative Pilates & Fitness for people living with illness, injury, and pain and bikini body Pilates & Fitness for the Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret swimsuit supermodel Raica Oliveira and others. So when I saw a preview of fellow Pilates professional Christine Binnendyk’s Ageless Pilates: The Secret to Moving Comfortably, Easily and Pain-free for the Rest of Your Life, which promises to teach readers how to stay strong and pain-free throughout their lives, I was impressed enough to want to read the whole book.

Binnendyk’s focus in her Ageless Pilates System is always movement without pain, and she tries in this book to break down the complexities of Pilates exercise into bite size pieces for people to more easily digest. The book is divided into 15 minute movement lessons and then more complex 30 minute Pilates-based workouts. She also offers modifications for those with back pain, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

While Binnendyk clearly knows her stuff, the book’s layout is so crowded that I found it hard to follow what to do. There are a lot of photos where the models are wearing all black so it is difficult to see body position, along with explanations, watchpoints, and do’s and don’ts. The main organizational principle seems to be the ABCs — Anchor Points (which main areas to focus on), Body Geometry Tips (specific biomechanics to focus on), and Comfort Options (tips on how to stay pain free in a given exercise).

But there is almost too much information here, especially for newbies to Pilates. Something I find important in my teaching is keeping it simple by just explaining exactly what to do and why it’s important. Short clear explanations of movements work well for most people. Too much and they tune out or get bored. And while there are some nice basic exercises in here, there are very few recognizable historical Pilates mat exercises and a whole lot of what we call pre-Pilates, or smaller movements. While that is not a huge issue for me, there are many Pilates teachers and students who might question the title.
Ageless Pilates could use some editing to make the explanations easier to follow and would definitely benefit from a cleaner layout and better photos. Still, when all is said and done it offers a good solid introduction to Pilates-based exercise for the general public.