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best pilates books

13 Best Pilates Books to Read this Year

Finding the best Pilates books to read in 2020 can be a challenge, especially since there are so many different books available online. That’s why OriGym have put together a well-rounded list of Pilates book reviews for you read, so that you're only having to choose from a limited yet high-quality selection. If we threw a list of 100+ books your way, you'd probably be overwhlemed to say the least! 

Before we continue, there is something you should know; we didn’t put together our list without giving it any real thought. We took some time to thoroughly research the market, and discover the most popular books across each of the main platforms here in the UK. That way, you can have a greater insight into the kinds of books on Pilates that you'll be reading. Here's a glimpse into the process that we used: 

  • We searched through 261 books (Waterstones), 72 books (WHSmith), and 8,000+ books (Amazon)
  • Only 13 books made it onto our list 
  • There is one Pilates book that landed itself as the overall winner, as it ranked consistently across each platform and stood out for its fantastic reviews (listed at the bottom of this article) 

We hope that you feel a little reassured after reading this, and that you can sit back and relax knowing that you're choosing from a selective list of the best products out there. 

But first, if you happen to be interested in kick-starting your career in fitness, go check out our Online Personal Trainer Course options, or download our FREE course prospectus before you carry on reading.

In no particular order… 

#1 - Pilates For Dummies Book

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The Pilates For Dummies book is an informative and comprehensive manual with basic, intermediate, and advanced step-by-step exercises targeting the stomach, thighs, and chest from Pilates trainer Ellie Herman. With clear photos, diagrams, and illustrations, Pilates For Dummies aims to make Pilates exercises, combinations of yoga, gymnastics, boxing, and dance, accessible to anyone allowing you to perfect them at home or as a supplement to classes.

Teaching Pilates since 1991, author Ellie leads a teacher training program in Brooklyn and has published ten books on Pilates exercises. A former dancer and choreographer, she discovered Pilates at the Dance Medicine Department at St Francis Hospital in San Francisco after suffering a knee injury. With the use of Pilates during her rehabilitation she experienced a full recovery, felt stronger and more energised and has dedicated her professional career to Pilates since. If you want to learn more about how this exercise method came about, be sure to check out OriGym's guide to Pilates history!

 

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Ellie writes clearly explaining topics such as the origins of Pilates, eight basic Pilates principles to get the most out of your time spent on the mat, how to set realistic goals, exercises to target abs, glutes, lower back, thighs, and arms, the use of Pilates equipment, how to custom-tailor your Pilates program to look better than ever, injury recovery and posture reform, and ten ways to incorporate Pilates into your daily life, amongst many more.

Ellie encourages her reader to reference books on Pilates beyond Pilates For Dummies and overall the 365-page reference book is one of the best Pilates books for beginners, intermediate practitioners looking for a clear instruction guide, and teachers looking for a complete reference guide for themselves and their clients. 

Available at: Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon 

Published: For Dummies (2002) 

Price: £9.99 (Waterstones), £12.79 (WHSmith), £11.38 (Amazon)

#2 - Pilates for Beginners: Core Pilates Exercises and Easy Sequences to Practice at Home

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This is one of the best books on Pilates for beginners, hence the title! Author Katherine Corp, Ex stunt artist and owner of New York-based 'Pilates On Fifth' where she instructs with her identical twin sister Kimberly, takes her student back to basics with a step-by-step to guide to a perfectly executed and tailored home-based Pilates workout program.

Designed as a complete starter program this Pilates exercise book makes incorporating Pilates into your routine easy with chapters progressing with increasingly more difficult workouts. Katherine has designed a program which develops with you as your body strengthens and your confidence increases with clear instructions, photographs, and checklists. So, if you're looking for Pilates instruction books, this is one of the best ones available. 

Pilates for Beginners includes 'Pilates 101' for mastering fundamental principles such as control, breathing, Pilates-Centering and 'Flow-to', 50 easy-to-follow exercises including warm-ups and cool-downs plus strengthening exercises, and 'Progressive Sequences' to build core strength, spinal mobility, and flexibility. 

One hundred and seventy-four pages, Pilates for Beginners is packed with valuable information to help beginners understand how to safely and accurately execute Pilates exercises as opposed to only mirroring an instructor.

Available at: Amazon 

Published: Althea Press (2018) 

Price: £12.46 (Amazon)

#3 - Pilates for Pregnancy: A safe and effective guide for pregnancy and motherhood

pilates book for beginners

Pilates for Pregnancy by Anya Hayes, a Pilates teacher specialising in pregnancy, motherhood, and self-compassion, is a Pilates pregnancy book that tailors exercises to each trimester whilst explaining what is happening to your body at each stage of your pregnancy. Anya offers insightful, fluff-free, and straight-talking clarity to new mums and mothers-to-be supporting you throughout your pregnancy and fitness journey combined.

As well as covering the fundamentals of Pilates exercises with clear instructions and pictures, moves focus on the pelvic floor and abdominal wall strength, posture, and full-body wellness to support your body during and after pregnancy whilst managing stress, improving mood, mental clarity, and energy. The Pilates for pregnancy book also includes motivational tips from mums who practiced Pilates throughout their pregnancy offering woman-to-woman support on their birth experience and postnatal recovery.

A progressive program, the guide covers: exercises for your baby's position in the womb, exercises for a better birthing experience, how to protect your back and improve your posture as your baby grows, and pelvic floor exercises. Anya also includes a whole chapter dedicated to the fourth trimester, the three months after you've had your baby. Anya gives details on how to maximise the strength of your abdominal muscles to handle your baby bump strengthening them to recover more quickly post-pregnancy and advice on cardio exercises that are safe for you and your baby. 

Pilates for Pregnancy is a perfect guide for mothers to be and yoga and Pilates instructors specialising in pregnancy or simply wanting to support their clients better, with clear images, and no-nonsense summaries for a safe workout program. So, if you're looking for a Pilates pregnancy book for yourself or for someone else as a gift, this should be your go-to option. 

Available at: Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon 

Published: Bloomsbury Sport (2018) 

Price: £16.99 (Waterstones), £13.59 (WHSmith), £12.35 (Amazon)

#4 - Pilates Anatomy Paperback

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Pilates Anatomy, Second Edition, explores how Pilates activates key muscles, and how breathing and alignment are linked to balance, core strength, and muscle tone. It's one you want to look out for in a selection of Pilates books for beginners. With full-colour, detailed illustrations of 46 exercises, demonstrating which muscles are being used for each move. With a whole section dedicated to 'Personalise Your Practice', Pilates Anatomy gives its students a clear understanding of how to target muscle groups, and how your workouts impact your physique. 

Authors Rael Isacowitz, is a prominent lecturer and founder of the educational organisation 'Body Arts and Science International' (BASI), and Karen Clippinger is a professor at California State University, Long Beach. Together they hold over 60 years experience studying, practicing, and teaching dance, anatomy, body placement, and Pilates. From their work, Pilates Anatomy includes exercise modifications to adjust for experience level and physical fitness level, exercise progressions are offered to take moves and poses a step further, and breathing, concentration, and self-awareness techniques are given alongside. 

Pilates Anatomy is a book for those who are curious about how Pilates changes the body and for seasoned practitioners and trainers wanting to delve deeper into anatomical theory to customise their practice for their clients' fitness goals. 

Available at: Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon 

Published: Human Kinetics (2019) 

Price: £19.99 (Waterstones), £17.99 (WHSmith), £17.66 (Amazon)

#5 - Pilates for Rehabilitation

books on pilates exercises

In Pilates for Rehabilitation author, physical therapist, and Yoga Alliance-certified teacher Samantha Wood looks at the use of Pilates to help with physical recovery and rehabilitation with exercises to manage pain, impaired movement, heal injuries, and recover optimal performance.  

Pilates for Rehabilitation includes step-by-step instructions for exercises organised by common orthopedic injuries and apparatus use with expert advice and cutting edge research. Each pathology includes accessible guides on how to determine the right program for yourself or your client plus options for modifying and tailoring exercises. Wood also includes progressions for challenging improved muscle groups, injuries, conditions, joints, or tendons. 

Pilates for Rehabilitation is clearly organised, inspiring, and well-written with Wood including diagrams, photos, and in-depth summaries of common injuries and pathologies offering goals and program suggestions for clients to achieve their training targets. This Pilates book makes for a great option for instructors to give them the knowledge and confidence necessary to design training programs for their client's rehabilitation needs. If you're toying with the idea of instructing yourself, be sure to take a look at our how to become a Pilates instructor guide for all the actionable steps that you need! 

Available at: Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon 

Published: Human Kinetics (2018) 

Price: £39.00 (Waterstones), £37.05 (WHSmith), £35.29 (Amazon)

#6 - The Complete Book of Pilates for Men: The Lifetime Plan for Strength, Power & Peak Performance

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By author Daniel Lyon, a Pilates instructor trained by the oldest living protege of Joseph Pilates, this Pilates for Men book offers a self-guided program for all experience levels with 40 'traditional mat' exercises. The book also doubles as one of the best Pilates reformer books with over 60 'reformer on the mat' exercises.

A straightforward and time-efficient program - based on all six principles of pilates, control, concentration, precision, center, and breath - this pilates book for men includes illustrated exercises and easy-to-follow instructions. 

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Alongside classical Pilates exercises, Lyon provides modifications for reformer exercises in this Pilates reformer book, which can be included in a mat-based routine and modifications to your program in the case of injury. Lyon has tailored his program to target common male problem areas and work with the male body's natural greater muscle mass, lesser flexibility, and tighter shoulders and hips, to help you achieve a strong, lean, aesthetic customised to you. 

This Pilates for men book is one of the great books on Pilates exercises for those who already have some experience, and are searching for a Pilates book with a customisable program tailored to their body. 

Available at: Waterstones, Amazon 

Published: William Morrow Paperbacks (2005) 

Price: £11.99 (Waterstones), £11.99 (Amazon)

#7 - The Pilates Body: The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening and Toning Your Body- Without Machines

best pilates reformer books

The original bestseller from Brooke Siler, The Pilates Body was released in 2000 and continues to hit lists of best Pilates books twenty years later. Including line drawings, visualisation exercises, and beautiful photos demonstrating workouts alongside clear and accessible step-by-step instructions The Pilates Body is a complete at-home program of mat-based exercises to tone, increase flexibility, and improve balance. It's therefore one of the most talked about books on Pilates exercises in modern times. 

The Pilates Body covers Pilates basics such as proper alignment, offers modifications for those with neck, knee, or lower back pain and over 60 exercises, most with a heavy focus on abdominal strength for back support. Each Pilates move is given a two-page spread for a comprehensive how-to summary. Exercises are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Each summary includes tips Siler has picked up after decades of training clients including key points to remember when doing the exercise and what not to do to help prevent injury.

Demonstrating an awareness of her target audience Siler includes an inspiring, frank and encouraging disclaimer about the models depicted: "The models in this book have been training in the Pilates method for years. Although their bodies may seem to represent an unrealistic ideal for many, they have worked hard to achieve their fitness goals. I hope in earnest that they do not intimidate but inspire."

The Pilates Body follows Joseph Pilates' original 34 exercise routine from beginner to advanced with you adding in progressively more difficult exercises as you build up strength and stamina. The bestseller is a classic and is a great Pilates book for beginners through to instructors.

Available at: Amazon 

Published: Michael Joseph (2000) 

Price: £3.97 (Amazon)

#8 - Pilates, Second Edition

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Also from lecturer and practitioner Rael Isacowitz, Pilates, Second Edition, is a comprehensive guide on Pilates detailing the same workout routine he has used to train Olympians and celebrity fitness instructors. The Pilates exercise book includes foundations of Pilates, mat work, photos, breathing instruction, challenging flow sequences, and provides its reader with a toolkit to design a personalised Pilates regime.

With more than 200 exercises and 50 variations, exercises are organised into blocks according to what part of your body you want to work on and progress from beginner through to advanced levels. A complete, one-stop guide, Pilates, Second Edition goes on to apply instruction on how to use the full range of Pilates apparatus including the reformer, wunda chair, ped-a-pul, arm chair, magic circle, and cadillac. This means that it can also be described as a Pilates reformer exercises book, since it guides the reader through this complex piece of equipment. 

Focusing on full-body wellbeing Rale provides a contemporary approach to the 34 piece original of Joseph Pilates targeting balance, posture, flexibility, concentration, muscle tone, and core strength. Pilates, First Edition, released in 2006, received worldwide acclaim and for good reason, Pilates, Second Edition by Rael Isacowitz is a great update to the original and one of the best books on Pilates for beginners through to instructors.

Available at: Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon 

Published: Human Kinetics Australia (2014) 

Price: £19.99 (Waterstones), £17.99 (WHSmith), £16.05 (Amazon)

#9 - Cassey Ho's Hot Body Year-Round: The Pop Pilates Plan to Get Slim, Eat Clean, and Live Happy Through Every Season

Price: £10.69

books on pilates

From award-winning fitness instructor and host of 4 million subscriber YouTube channel Blogilates, Cassey Ho. Cassey was named "one of the Top 25 Most Influential People in the world in Health and Fitness for 2015" by Greatist, "Top Healthy Living Blog" by Fitness Magazine in 2012 and has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, and The Wendy Williams Show. Cassey Ho's Hot Body Year-Round, is a step-by-step of Cassey's body sculpting POP Pilates.

A Pilates exercise book and nutrition guide, it includes 40 nutritious and clean-eating recipes, and 120 exercises focusing on muscle building using Cassey's POP Pilates for full-body transformation with personal notes and tips from Cassey. Each exercise is summarised alongside full-colour photographs plus motivational tips for year-round support and encouragement. If you want to learn more about this topic, OriGym offer a course in Advanced Sports Nutrition that teaches you everything you need to know to become a qualified Nutritionist. 

The book works as an extension to her YouTube channel Blogilates and as a stand-alone introduction to Pilates and a healthier lifestyle, making it a great Pilates book for beginners. With a seventy thirty approach to good nutrition and fitness working together, the book includes Cassey's personal meal plans and suggested, seasonal grocery lists for foods high in the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy hair, skin, and nails. We've put together a Personal Training Meal Plan that explains the basics of nutrition and includes food suggestions straight from a PT diet, if you want to get a head start before reading the book! 

Available at: Waterstones, Amazon 

Published: Harmony Books (2015) 

Price: £13.99 (Waterstones), £11.20 (Amazon)

#10 - PILATES RETURN TO LIFE THROUGH CONTROL: Revised Edition for the 21st Century

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The original, from Joseph Pilates himself and William J. Miller, first published in 1945, Pilates' Return to Life is still one of the best Pilates books available. This book, the revised edition for the 21st Century, is an edited, paperback version of the original edition held at the Library of Congress and available on Amazon. 

Pilates' Return to Life contains exercises, poses, and instructions based on early Greek concepts of balancing body and mind. The book contains all 34 original exercises plus 18 additional pages of 21st-century poses, exercises, and moves such as standing postures, circular movements, and core exercises plus photo sequences.

A complete modern Pilates guide, the book also includes the use of props such as weights, bands, and foam rollers, amongst many more making it perfect for intermediate and advanced practitioners. For exercises with props, four photos are given per demonstration and explanations are clear and concise. Overall Pilates' Return to Life is a great resource for practitioners looking for a raw, old school manual of Pilates original method.

Available at: Waterstones, Amazon 

Published: Presentation Dynamics Inc (2012) 

Price: £18.99 (Waterstones), £11.16 (Amazon)

#11 - The Pilates Bible: The most comprehensive and accessible guide to Pilates ever

best book on pilates

The Pilates Bible is a comprehensive Pilates book with popular exercises including old favorites, new additions, and the latest medical research. All exercises can be performed with little or no equipment making it a perfect manual for building an at-home program. 

The Pilates Bible is the combined work of three authors. Lynne Robinson, DVD host, bestselling author, and founder of Body Control Pilates, a respected, worldwide Pilates organisation with 1,500 teachers. Lynne was listed as one of 'London's 300 Most Influential People' by the London Evening Standard and has been called 'The Queen of Pilates' by The Times. Lynne wrote alongside Lisa Bradshaw, Head of Education and Professional Development for Body Control Pilates, and Nathan Gardner, General Manager of Body Control Pilates for the UK. 

With sections dedicated to Pilates at the gym, for performing arts, athletes, for new mothers, children, and suffers of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, and back pain The Pilates Bible is a one-stop guide to support you throughout your fitness journey. 

The book is clearly laid-out, instructions are clear and divided into chapters based on fitness levels of beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each level includes 20, 30, and 40-minute exercise plans for each. 2-page spreads are dedicated to each exercise with clear pictures showing poses step-by-step as you would move through them. It's definitely one of the best Pilates instruction books for those looking for help with the movements themselves! 

The Pilates Bible is a great Pilates book for beginners, intermediates, and advanced practitioners living up to its promise of being a complete manual to support you through every stage of your journey.

Available at: Waterstones, Amazon 

Published: Kyle Books (2019) 

Price: £19.99 (Waterstones), £14.99 (Amazon)

#12 - Pilates Body in Motion: A Practical Guide to the First 3 Years

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An unparalleled choice if you're looking to start your Pilates journey but need to stick to a budget, Pilates Body in Motion: A Practical Guide to the First 3 Years, comes from bestselling author Alycea Ungaro advisory board member of Fitness Magazine and celebrity trainer of names such as Madonna and Uma Thurman.

A global bestseller, Pilates: Body in Motion is a step-by-step Pilates exercises book for mat-based movements, without any need for props. Alycea explains exercise sequences with quick overviews, illustrations, photos showing each sequence as you would move through them, and helpful checklists for what to remember when performing each exercise and what to avoid to prevent injury. 

The book includes four programs to help you move from beginner to intermediate to advanced in three years. A few of the 50 classic mat exercises included are the Corkscrew to the Swan Dive, the Open Leg Rocker, and The Hundred to The Wall sequence. Exercises build their way up starting from foundational principles making for a perfect home-based program that allows you to tailor your workout to your body. 

Alycea has a good focus on breathing and a 'life wrecks our bodies so let's minimise that' outlook which makes the book overall more encouraging and accessible for beginners at any fitness level. Pilates: Body in Motion is also great for intermediates returning to the exercise program after some time away or simply looking for a fast-reference manual to develop an at-home practice.

Available at: Waterstones, Amazon 

Published: DK (2016) 

Price: £12.99 (Waterstones), £3.67 (Amazon)

#13 - Women's Health Big Book of Pilates, The: The Essential Guide to Total Body

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One of the best books on Pilates for a complete guide and overview of Pilates with over 260 Pilates exercises. Author Brooke Siler is herself a Joseph Pilates protege, bestselling author of Pilates Body, and is the founder of New York City Pilates studio re:AB Pilates sought after as the most popular Pilates studio in New York.

Describing itself as 'The Essential Guide to Total-Body Fitness', this Pilates exercise book delivers everything you need to begin a Pilates fitness journey. Chapters one through to three, 'What's Pilates?', 'All Your Questions Answered', and 'How Pilates Gets You Fit' cover the fundamentals of Pilates. With comprehensive information on exercises, Brooke gives you all the tools you'll need to have at your belt before hitting the mat plus clear information on all the benefits of Pilates to rev up your motivation and excitement for getting started.

Chapters six through to eleven match exercise to fitness or health goals with hundreds of exercises to tone thighs, boost metabolism, target chronic pain, maximise mood, and improve posture. Chapter four 'Pilates For Your Plate' includes nutrition tips and a breakdown of a 'Pilates-body diet' to support your body in building muscle, burning fat, and providing a three-sixty approach to full-body health.

Featured in Vogue, Glamour, and New York Magazine, Women's Health Big Book of Pilates is one of the best available. Brooke includes photos and diagrams for reference. Explanations are clear and kept short, exercises are appropriate for most ages and organized by level, and tips are given on how to execute exercises without risk of injury. Brooke also advises on how to incorporate Pilates around your work or travel schedule, the best props to support your workout, and Pilates principles to help combat chronic pain, stress, and low energy.

Available at: Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon 

Published: Rodale (2014) 

Price: £22.50 (Waterstones), £18.00 (WHSmith), £16.19 (Amazon)

Conclusion

We hope that you've enjoyed looking through our list of the best books on Pilates, and that you've found a few titles to add to your Pilates books 'to be read' list. There really is something for everyone who is interested in Pilates here, whether you're new to the exercise method or you've been practising it for years! 

Armed with what you now know from reading our in-depth Pilates book reviews, you should be able to make an informed choice. 

Perhaps your passion for Pilates or fitness in general is tugging you towards a career in the industry? If you're interesting in finding out more, be sure to check out OriGym's range of PT and fitness courses, or download our course prospectus here


 

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Written by Chloe Twist

Fitness Content Manager, OriGym

Join Chloe on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Chloe graduated with a BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and prior to OriGym worked at J&R Digital Marketing Agency on the Liverpool 'Female Founders' series. Since joining the company, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and advanced Sports Nutrition Specialist. Chloe’s professional interests intersect content-development and the world of online fitness, especially across social media and YouTube, and Chloe has herself contributed pieces on fitness and weight loss to sites including the Daily Star and The Express. Outside her day-to-day role, Chloe enjoys playing the guitar, gaming and kettlebell training. 

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