Brooke Siler is one of the few certified Pilates instructors who trained under the tutelage of Joseph Pilates’ protegee Romana Kryzanowska. As owner of re:AB Pilates studio in New York, she has trained celebs including Zooey Deschanel, Liv Tyler, Lauren Hutton and Rachel Weisz. She's the author of "The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates" (Rodale, $26.99), which hits bookstores today.
Siler teamed up with the editors of "Women's Health" magazine for the photo-packed 432-page softcover book, which features principles, workouts, prop advice, eating tips and moves to help soothe injuries.
We talked to Siler about her "back to basics" approach to Pilates.
Q. Has Pilates gone too “far afield” with hybrid workouts?
A. While I'm all for using Pilates in tandem with alternate workouts and sports, I think that once it has been morphed into something unrecognizable -- its principles and philosophy forsaken -- it should no longer bear the Pilates name.
Q. Why is it better to focus on the original moves of Joseph Pilates?
A. If my teacher Romana, Joseph Pilates' protogee, saw you trying to stray from the original work she would say, "are YOU a genius? No? Well, Joseph Pilates was!"
And he was! His system is designed to work your muscles methodically so as to create maximum efficiency muscularly, mentally and circulatorily. The original work and choreography balances the body to provide minimum risk and maximum reward.
Q. People seem to be fixated on increasingly more “extreme” workouts. Is Pilates a hard sell?
A. Pilates is only a hard sell to those who are caught up in "the next big thing" or who crave the adrenaline rush of competition and extremism. The irony is that Pilates not only provides a practically never-ending series of progressive challenges for the mind and body comparable to other athletic pursuits, but by adding it to your extremist routine you actually can outperform the competition.
Q. How does a Pilates workout compete with those workouts?
A. When taught well, Pilates should be an unmistakably athletic pursuit that focuses on efficiency rather than expenditure. While its attention goes far beyond those of extreme workouts, such as increasing energy, bettering digestion, improving posture, therapeutic applications, relieving chronic aches and pains, bettering sleep, sex and stability, those individuals intelligent enough to recognize and employ the physical and mental benefits of Pilates can inevitably increase propulsion, coordination, muscular endurance, mental stamina, injury prevention, etc.