I truly believe that anything we do is a process; a process that we must consistently put in the work. Since, I’m so passionate about Pilates, it is well…Pilates that I consistently work on. Part of this process is that I am first and foremost a student of the method. My own practice is always a work in process. The Pilates nerd in me also loves to read anything I can find on Pilates, anatomy, and movement in general.
Mari Winsor’s “The Pilates Powerhouse” was the latest book I picked up on the Pilates Method. Winsor helped bring Pilates into higher recognition through her work with actresses, actors, musicians and professional athletes.
Mari gives a brief introduction to Pilates and it’s creator Joseph Pilates, as well as writes about how she came to meet Romana Krysanowska, who would later become her teacher and mentor. Mari found her way to the Pilates through the dance world. Pilates helped to her to become stronger and ease some injuries she had.
One of the things I really loved about this book was the testimonials from celebrities at the beginning of each chapter. Some of these are people I didn’t even know did Pilates. Melanie Griffith, Vanessa Williams, Patrick Swayze and even Danny Glover. DANNY GLOVER!? Danny Glover says Pilates kept him injury free while filming the Lethal Weapon movies and Patrick Swayze says Pilates helped him get ready to film Dirty Dancing.
In the first chapter, “The Joy of Movement”, Winsor talks a little about the mind, body, and spirit connection in Pilates. How we must take some time each day for ourselves to move. And that this movement must be focused on quality over quantity.
The second chapter goes over what we now know as the “Pilates Principles” and Mari adds in a few more. These include: Breathing, Relaxation, Concentration, Control, Fluidity, Inside Out/Outside In (the idea of centering), Strength and Flexibility, and Freedom and Control.
The Powerhouse is discussed in Chapter Three. Mari writes about the actually location and anatomy of the Powerhouse. She also talks about the Powerhouse as a center of communication. I loved this idea of the Powerhouse as a command center where we “operate best from. That center is the part that we love about ourselves, the person we wish to be all the time. The center or powerhouse is the place where you speak from, where you feel emotional pain, joy and elation”. It’s about so much more than six pack abs people!
Then we move into the exercise portion of the book. The mat order follows the usual order we are use to. Beginner level exercises are noted by one dot, Intermediate by two dots and advanced by three dots. I like this as it keeps the order of the exercises throughout the book in an easy format to follow that flows well.
Each individual exercise includes the goal of the exercise, the set up or “Prep”, the execution of the exercise or “Ready” and then the “Action”. Each exercise is followed with several photos that show the exercise in action. I found the exercises easy to follow, even for someone who may be new to Pilates and she included some great cues. I found the instructions to be clean and very concise.
Some interesting notes on the exercises is that some of the levels were different than what I had learned in my training so I was wondering why on those. Definitely had me thinking. For instance I learned One Leg or Single Leg Teaser as a prep for the other Teasers to follow. In the book Winsor has it listed as an Advanced exercise. Another is Mermaid, I learned that as a beginner exercise and Winsor has it listed as Advanced. I just thought that was interesting and had me really think about why these would be less accessible to a beginner.
The book continues with a discussion on injuries and Winsor creates some injury specific classes for cases such as neck injuries, lower back pain and weakness, and asthma. This included modifications for some of the Pilates exercises as well as some other non-Pilates exercises that Mari has used for herself and her clients.
The book finishes with a brief touch on the Pilates apparatus and what to expect when you walk into a Pilates studio. Overall, I really loved this book. I enjoyed learning more about Mari and her journey into Pilates. I think this is a great book for everyone, Pilates newbies, advanced students and teachers. I highly recommend picking this one up.