Return to Life
After practicing Pilates for years now I thought it was about time that I read Joseph Pilates' book, Return to Life. The book is a fast read at just 35 pages of narrative followed by 100+ pages of the classical mat Pilates repertoire. Overall it reads like a home workout guidebook, which I guess is what it was originally intended to be, right? Pilates wanted everyone to be able to unleash their inner strength and make the mind-body connection that would ultimately lead to a more fulfilled and healthy life. Can you imagine trying to teach yourself Pilates at home with just a book as your guide, without ever working with a live instructor?!
Return to Life was published in 1945 and I have to echo what basically everyone says about Joe - he was ahead of his time. Pilates called his method of exercise Contrology and like the name says, contrology was all about moving the body through deliberate postures with mindfulness and control. Contrology was designed to restore physical fitness to the everyday people living in the Modern Age of automobiles and telephones (I have a feeling he could cringe in he saw the postures we assume while on our laptops and phones!). Pilates recognized that more and more people were exhausting themselves in their daily work grind, having little energy left at the end of the day to enjoy rest and time with friends and family. His solution was a regiment of no/low impact exercises that could be performed at home without the need for equipment, forming the classical mat repertoire that has been adapted in contemporary Pilates mat classes worldwide.
There were two excerpts that really resonated with me. Here's the first:
Continued use of Contrology steadily increases the normal and natural supply of pure rich blood to flow to and circulate throughout the brain with corresponding stimulation to new brain areas previously dormant. More significanty, it actually develops more brain cells.
I don't know certain Pilates was of this statement at the time, but current research does confirm the numerous positive effects that exercise has on brain tissue and function. Again, a man ahead of his time.
Last is a line that I would love to print out on a poster and point to everytime I hear the excuse of not having enough time to exercise. Enjoy!
To neglect one's body for any other advantage in life is the greatest of follies. - Joseph Pilates