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Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge

Author: Siler B
Category: Health/Fitness
Audience: Consumer
Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books
  Year Published: 2006
List Price: $17.95® Rating: Good

Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge explains and illustrates a general Pilates exercise and fitness program. Several sports-specific routines are also presented.

Recommended for: Anyone at any fitness level.


Brooke Siler is the owner of re:AB® Pilates Studio in Manhattan, New York City, which opened in 1997. She was schooled in the concept of Pilates exercise by a Joseph Pilates protege. In 2000, she published "The Pilates Body," which became a New York Times bestseller. It went on to be translated into 7 languages. She has been featured in Glamour, People, and Vogue magazines and on a variety of national TV programs.


This 224-page book is organized as follows:

The Man, The Method, The Movement

Your Amazing Body: The Owner's Manual

  • Applying the Pilates Principles to Special Situations

The Pilates-Conscious Cardio Circuit

  • At The Gym
  • At Home
  • On The Mat

The Invisible Workout

Pilates for the Sports-Minded

  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowboarding


Is this really a book about Pilates exercise? Curiously, of the hundreds of black-and-white photos of models performing exercises, only one includes an actual Pilates machine (aka "Reformer").  There are photos of models exercising on rowing machines, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, treadmills, and stair-steppers, but demonstrations using Pilates equipment are noticeably absent.

What the author has done is to integrate Pilates-like exercises and that mindfulness into routines that can be performed without the need for a Pilates Reformer. Fans of Pilates will like these routines, but, others may appreciate it as well.

In the "On The Mat" section (pp. 82-169), Siler presents 4 routines that can be performed without any exercise equipment: Adding Abs, Lean Lower Body, Perfecting Posture, and Finding Flexibility. Each of the 4 routines is based around her "Tantalizing Ten" exercises plus 1 resting position ("Low Back Stretch"), combined with several other exercises. Each exercise is categorized as "Beginner," "Intermediate," "Advanced," or "Very Advanced." Note that the exercises in each of these 4 routines are intended to be performed in the sequence the author has presented them. The "Tantalizing Ten" are explained on pp. 86-109; the 4 routines are presented on pp. 110-169. This section of the book is done well.

In "The Invisible Workout" (pp. 170-199), the author encourages readers to be mindful of their posture when doing simple things like standing, sitting, carrying a small child, and moving furniture. These are good tips for anyone.

In the section titled "Pilates for the Sports Minded" (pp. 200-217), the author presents simple exercises intended to benefit golfers, tennis players, skiers, and snowboarders. This section is moderately useful.

What I Liked

A very unique aspect to this book is Siler's advice to be mindful of proper form when doing traditional exercises (working out on gym equipment) and even when doing daily activities. Proper form is one of the main principles of Pilates exercise. The author uses the term "metaforms" (ie., a contraction of "metaphor" and "forms") to represent how readers can use their creative imagination to enhance the effectiveness of various exercises and activities. This is an important message. Effective exercise is not just "doing more reps."

In addition, it's concise. The page layout is clean and visually appealing. The black-and-white photos are sharp and not too dark. Most of the text is presented in a serif font which is easy to read.

What Could Be Better

Other than the absence of an Index, there's not much to criticize here.

One suggestion pertains to the exercises in the "On The Mat" section (pp. 86-169). These include a difficulty rating displayed vertically on the edge of each page. When I first leafed through the book, I was confused as to why the "Beginner" exercises weren't all grouped together and the "Advanced" exercises weren't grouped together. The reason is because each routine includes exercises of a variety of difficulty levels and the author wants you to perform them in the specific sequence she lists them. Thus, to help the reader understand that, each exercise within a routine should be numbered. That way, the reader will know that exercise #9 comes before exercise #10, even if exercise #9 is labeled as Advanced and exercise #10 is labeled as Beginner. Some readers might erroneously assume that a beginning exerciser should only perform the exercises categorized as "Beginner" and skip the others.

Another suggestion might be to also feature photos of older models performing some of the exercises.


"Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge" is a unique and useful book. It demonstrates a variety of exercises that provide total-body fitness. Siler's encouragement to be mindful of posture and proper muscle use when doing daily activities, and, to use proper form when working out at the gym are applicable to everyone. I can definitely recommend this book to not only fans of Pilates, but, to anyone.


  • Pilates For Athletes (2021) by Sean Vigue. This book is a resource of over 200 Pilates exercises that can be performed on a, a Pilates Reformer isn't necessary.
  • Pilates For Rehabilitation (2019) by Samantha Wood. As the title suggests, this book focuses on recovering from an injury. The author is both a licensed physical therapist and a certified Pilates instructor.

Reviewed by: Stan Reents, PharmD 4/9/2021 9:52:27 AM

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