Book Review: The Complete Book of Pilates for Men


Title: The Complete Book of Pilates for Men
Author: Daniel Lyon JR.
Published: 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 338
Availability: Bookstores, Amazon, etc.

There are not too many books on Pilates that are actually geared towards men, so when I spotted this book I had to purchase it. “The Complete Book of Pilates for Men” by Daniel Lyon JR. is a very thorough book on the traditional mat work, with a focus on making the practice accessible for men. Lyon JR is Romana trained and worked at both Drago’s Gymnasium and realPilates Tribeca Bodyworks.

The book is broken into four major parts and I will cover those separately.

Part 1:

This part gives a brief overview of what Pilates is and how men of all fitness levels can benefit from practicing Pilates. In this first section Lyon JR. mentions the Pilates principles, gives a brief description of the anatomy of the “Powerhouse” and discussed the benefits of practicing Pilates related to strength, flexibility and posture.

He also gives a short history of Joseph Pilates  and explains the difference between mat and apparatus Pilates. He gives a quick description of what the apparatus is and what each piece is. He closes this first part in going over some of the basics of mat Pilates such as Pilates stance, chin to chest, further details on the 6 principles and a “How to Use This Book” section.

Part 2:

This is the meat of the book featuring the 40 Traditional Pilates Mat Work exercises from The Hundred all the way to Push-ups. At the beginning of the section is a list of what exercises to do for Beginner, Intermediate and then Advanced. The exercises are then written out and in order. The idea is to pick and choose and follow the list depending on your level of practice.

The pictures accompanying the exercises are actual pencil like drawings of Lyon JR. in movement. They are great at showing body position and exercise set up, as well as how the body would move during the exercise. Detailed descriptions of the exercise set up and movement patterns are under each picture. Also included are the benefits of the exercise and what body parts they work.

Each exercise also has a section called “The Beast Within” thats includes three sections: “Body Position” (further description of setup and imagery on how to move through the exercise), “The Mind in Motion” (more detail on movement and this section offers modifications if needed for each exercise) and finally “Cautions” (anything you need to know whether you should omit this exercise or not).

Part 3:

This part is more mat exercises, but this time covering “Reformer on the Mat”. This sections goes through all of the advanced exercises on the Universal Reformer but how to perform them on the mat. Again, this section starts of a list of 66 Advanced Reformer Exercises and then further lists on what to do for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced students.

The detailed descriptions, pictures, etc for these exercises are similar to the first section of the Traditional Mat Work.

Part 4:

The book closes with different routines and modifications for injuries (weak neck, shoulder, injured or weak back, and injured or weak knees). Also included a great and detailed “Glossary” of Pilates terms.

I did enjoy this book, and found some great cueing and imagery that Daniel Lyon JR. used in this book. However, it is in my opinion that this book is more for someone who had taken a class or so with a real in live teacher, and who maybe wants to further develop their home practice.

I think the book contains way too advanced work for a beginner to attempt to do at home, especially in the “Reformer on the Mat” section, with exercises listed such as Control Balance/Arabesque.

Even though Lyon JR. does write about the challenge of these exercises and that they are more advanced, and gives the breakdown of what to do at each level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) I can see some men would not pay attention to this or do the modifications listed and attempt to do all the exercises in the order given. The exercises in each section are described first in the ideal set-up, execution and more at the advanced version of the exercise. I think this can be challenging to most men, or I can see men muscling through the exercises.

Overall, this is a great book and I’m glad I grabbed when I saw it. It’s full of great cues and imagery and the pictures are a nice accompaniment to the exercise descriptions. I actually love the “Reformer on the Mat” part and see that as a great way to challenge some of my students in a mat class. This is a book I will definitely refer back to over and over again, and do recommend it for teachers to add to their collections.





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