Pilates Plus by Alan Herdman

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This book is designed to be an introduction to Pilates for people over the age of 50.

It's not very comprehensive in its coverage of Pilates, but that's OK for this purpose.

It starts out with basic information on how one purpose of Pilates is to improve your posture, because that helps improve the health of your inner organs and breathing, which are critical to overall health.

He starts out with the no doubt correct belief that the reader has many longstanding bad habits related to how you sit, stand, walk and move through your daily life — and sleep as well. He offers useful advice in all these areas, and everything is demonstrated by models who are also over the age of 50 — not the usual beautiful young people.

He includes sections on how to find your abs and glutes, obviously assuming many readers are so out of shape they need help feeling their muscles.

There are sections on positions for sleeping comfortably, stimulating your circulation before getting out of bed, and for getting out of bed. For doing your hair or other activities in front of a wash basin. For going up and down stairs. And for lifting and carrying. (He advises splitting your load up into two bags rather than trying to carry just one bag, which makes you lopsided. That sounds good, but goes against airline regulations allowing us only one carry-on bag, and the natural human inclination to fill up both bags, if allowed.)

There are also sections on proper posture for riding and driving in cars, for doing household chores, various sports, and nutrition advice.

He then includes a basic workout, then exercises for specific problems, such as stiff hands, tennis and golfer's elbow, frozen shoulder, neck and upper back problems, breathing problems, lower back pain, scoliosis, uneven leg lengths, sciatica, hip replacements (though none specifically for knee replacements, I guess because he also includes many knee exercises), weak knees, foot and ankle problems, heart disease, for retaining good circulation, recovery from stroke, and osteoporosis.

He also include some exercises for people in wheelchairs.

He then gives three workouts: easy, moderate and challenging.

Frankly, I suspect that people with lots of Pilates experience will not find any of these exercises, but this is not a book designed for advanced students.

The end of the book contains testimonials for the author and his Pilates studio. They're quite impressive. But I suspect that helping all those elderly and severely injured people was a lot more technically involved than the exercises in this book.

Therefore, you should treat this just as an introduction. If you have severe physical problems now, whatever age you are, you should check out the Pilates studios and classes in your area, because no book will come up with a program designed especially for you.

If you're just over age 50 and want to stay in or get into good health, this is a good place to start, though I'm sure you should also go to a local Pilates class if available.

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