Winner! of the 2012 About.com Readers' Choice Awards for "Best Book About the Pilates Method".
Best Book About Pilates: Pilates Path to Health by Gary Calderone
by Marguerite Ogle
MO: As we speak, advance copies of the book have been out for a few weeks. What is the initial response from the Pilates community?
GC: Response has been over the top in a very positive way. The title and the cover speak to part of why. The title of the book, The Pilates Path to Health, Body Mind and Spirit is almost the standing inquiry for all that have come to this work. It’s an extension into something greater than the exercises we are doing. Also, the book was designed to bring information, intelligence and energy together in a unified field and that is reflected in the design of the cover of the book.
MO: You introduced some of the ideas in this book in a lecture at a PMA conference a long time ago. You met with a very mixed response. How did that affect you?
GC: The initial response from the audience was favorable. Later, I got mixed reviews from the “powers that be”. At that time, the PMA was just getting started. Perhaps in that infantile stage they were unaware of the distinction principles and values can bring to an organization wanting to have impact in the world… beyond the overstated dictum of reinforcing standards, ideals, and expectations.
At that time the separation and rejection I perceived was devastating, and detrimental to my health. I became very ill. Now, years later, I have come to know that holding your intention and becoming unstoppable in your conviction can move providence. The book will take its place in the legacy, heritage, and literature about the Pilates paradigm - reflecting an affirmation in the Pilates Community that there is greater purpose and wisdom beyond the exercises we do and teach.
MO: What do you think has changed in the Pilates community mind between then and now to make this book so timely now?
GC: A shift in consciousness in step with the times we live in. The need to bridge the gap between action, how we do Pilates, and thought, why we do Pilates creates a distinction toward what is transformational about the work. All of us know there is a shift going on that we have to acknowledge. There is a bridge between matter and spirit that we as a collective are crossing. Perhaps Pilates is a vehicle to that end.
MO: I think you address the body, mind and spirit aspect of Pilates in a balanced way in the book, but the spirit part stands out because it isn’t often spoken of as overtly in Pilates. Is that true in your experience?
GC: One of the things that drove me to write this book is that [spiritual acknowledgement] is what was missing. To walk away from a Pilates session and to claim that it was a “great workout” and nothing more was offensive to me. Why would anybody spend the amount of money you spend on a Pilates session and not acknowledge that it’s beyond a workout?
How we navigate ourselves through the trinity of body, mind, and spirit was originally in Joseph Pilates work. He spoke of a “complete coordination of body, mind and spirit”. That is the exploration through which we come out from our particular circumstances into something greater than we thought.
Health is not just the absence of illness, rather, a state of balance - a unification of body, mind, and spirit. Joe [Pilates] spoke of this wholeness as what was missing in humanity - wholeness as an expression of health. What is inseparable from this notion of an un-divided union is the spirit emerging, and that one’s purpose and passion in life is a shared phenomenon. It participates with, shares in the benefits, and acknowledges others.
As structures and systems that no longer serve humanity continue to break down, people connecting with a cohesive energetic field, an outcome that a Pilates practice can provide, may help to ease the process and progressively create a better world. Many people are realizing that unity and more heartfelt connection are the next spiritual leap for humanity. This spiritual leap for humankind, I and other Pilates practitioners believe, is the intention behind, and what drives, Joe’s work.
The book is intended to provide a means to continue the conversation about what is spiritual in an individual’s experience of Pilates. Indicators may be a sense of lightness, and renewed passion and identification with ones purpose. The greatest is the noticing.
MO: In your book you describe much what is already part of Pilates – history, equipment, resources, even healing stories. What you uniquely add to the mix is what you call a 21st century perspective. And, the metaphysical correlates with the Pilates principles. Why do we need those? How did you arrive at them?
GC: Body, mind, and spirit has always been spoken of. However, in the 21st century, facing the challenges now present, it was important to bring those principles that were originally given as a way to physicalize Pilates, into a way to embody Pilates. In Return to Life Through Contrology, the exercises and photographs are not in the front of the book. That would be pretty irrelevant, wouldn’t it? To me, it stands to reason that one must embody the principles first, to prepare this trinity of body mind and spirit to come into an awakening of possibility that this might be something more than exercise.
The six principles and their correlates, can serve as a chart in a Pilates environment to act as a touchstone to create distinction as to how a perceptible shift toward renewed life and heightened experience of self can occur. Each metaphysical parallel reveals what can be achieved through mastery of the principle. For example, grace is a higher understanding of the Pilates principle precision; conscious change is the higher understanding of control; present moment awareness is the higher understanding of concentration… and so on.
I saw folks doing Pilates and I wrote their stories. Their stories were revealing something other than just a workout. In each story, as that individual came to a understanding, I saw that there was a bridge. So I pulled out words that were metaphysical correlates to something greater: quality of attention, being in the now, self knowledge, discovery, effort with ease and intention. These are the principles and values of a society reaching for a higher caliber of vibration. Conscious change is the tipping point we stand in as a society. Through our thoughts that shift perception, we can create conscious change in our world.
MO: What are you most hoping people will get out of this book?
GC: To notice what is possible. I hope the book provides a bridge into meaning (Pilates intention), purpose (to change our physical and mental pattern), integration (affecting a shift in 21st century perspective), and outcome (to transform an individual) - accessed from the Pilates studio/rehabilitation experience - into transformation of the world.
Gary Caldrone is the author of the Pilates Path to Health. He is a long-time Pilates instructor who trained at the Pilates Center of Boulder and is PMA Certified. Gary teaches and lectures throughout the US and is currently working on a new book.
Marguerite Ogle, MA is a Pilates educator and practitioner who has published over 1,000 articles about Pilates. She consults for the Pilates industry and integrates Pilates based movement and principles into her work as a Natural Wellness Coach.