Pilates on the Ball

A Comprehensive Book and DVD Workout
By (author) Colleen Craig

Other books by this author

Pilates on the Ball
A Comprehensive Book and DVD Workout
By (author) Colleen Craig

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Pages : 192

Book Size : 8 x 10

ISBN-13 : 9780892810956

Imprint : Healing Arts Press

On Sale Date : September 10, 2003

Format : Paperback Book

Illustrations : 182 b&w photographs and illustrations

In her bestselling book Pilates on the Ball, certified Pilates trainer Colleen Craig combines the effectiveness of the Pilates workout with the unique capabilities of the Swiss exercise ball, providing an innovative and low-impact way to stay fit. The accompanying DVD allows readers to see the body in motion and follow along as if in a class setting.


About Pilates on the Ball

Features a 45-minute DVD and the bestselling book Pilates on the Ball

• Includes a visual demonstration of selected exercises from the Pilates ball workout described in detail in the accompanying book

In her bestselling book Pilates on the Ball, certified Pilates trainer Colleen Craig combines the effectiveness of the Pilates workout with the unique capabilities of the Swiss exercise ball, providing an innovative and low-impact way to stay fit. Now she offers a DVD in which numerous exercises from the book are demonstrated, accompanied by Craig’s vocal coaching that explains each step of the exercises. While the book Pilates on the Ball contains over 160 photographs and detailed step-by-step instructions, many users prefer to see the exercises demonstrated live in real time. The accompanying DVD allows readers to see exactly how to position the body throughout each phase of the exercise and also to see what pitfalls can occur and how to easily prevent them. Most important of all, the DVD allows the user to follow along as if in a class setting.

The Pilates on the Ball book and DVD workout shows users of all levels of fitness how to maximize the use of the ball in order to increase athletic performance, build long lean muscles, and tone the abdominal core. The DVD allows readers to take the exercises to new levels of understanding and effectiveness as they put the exercises contained in the book into practice.


Book Excerpt

Heaven or Hell?
Our Relationship to Physical Activity

Ingrid’s Story
On a recent trip to Africa I had tea with Ingrid, a seventy-year-old widow of a European diplomat. My friends and I sat outside on a veranda overlooking a sprawling garden wild with climbers, fig trees, and unswept leaves, an oasis where even in the dead of an African winter insects, birds, and flowers thrived. The sun was very sharp but falling fast as the tea arrived, colonial style, carried on a well-dressed tray by the domestic helper. My friends baited Ingrid to talk about her sojourns in the various African countries where she and her late husband had lived. “Sudan, Egypt, Congo, Kenya, Uganda,” she rattled off. She was my mother’s age yet had lived a life I could not imagine. Not a life of shopping malls, PTA meetings, or painting classes, but one of terrorist bombings, grenade attacks, luxury houses on stilts overlooking foreign oceans; a decadent life with too much drinking and cigarette smoking.

The sharp cold made us move inside. We sat on leather sofas in front of a massive stone fireplace surrounded by animal-skin carpets and bead-decorated stools. Every eye was on the sun-aged, blue-eyed diplomat’s wife, who smoothed a stray piece of hair back from her face in a mood reminiscent of a 1950s Hollywood starlet. Once in Uganda she had been roused from a bath at midnight by the sound of guerillas with AK-47s stomping around in the very next room. After Idi Amin’s fall, Ingrid slipped into the dictator’s ransacked home to help herself to a stool and a telephone. These stories would have had a historian or a journalist jumping. Yet what made my ears perk up was her announcement of how she had transformed the mammoth stone-filled field around her new home into a lush garden. Her husband, she explained, had died two years previously; soon after she had begun to “shrivel up,” and she needed to walk with a cane. One day she looked into a mirror, a crystal glass full of scotch nearby, to admit that she had again gone off the wagon and was old--a “skeleton” living in another radically transformed African country. Then a close friend had helped her to stop drinking. Sober and alone, she was forced to take control of her life.

“What did you do?” I asked.

The fire glowed in the grate behind her. “Physical work--like a man,” she said with a small smile. “I designed the garden. I ordered truckloads of dirt. I put in the two fishponds. Of course I had help. I had to get rid of the ‘sticks.’ These, what-you-call, canes, held me back from planting.”

“Now what do you do?” I asked. She had two gardeners who appeared to take care of much of the yard work.

“Swim aerobics,” she said. “I started eight months ago. I go every second day. The swim aerobics led to the mall walking.”

“Mall walking?”

“On the days I don’t swim, I walk. It’s very organized. True as God, they even time us with stopwatches. Like an American, I am,” she laughed. “Can you see me walking in circles inside a mall? But I love it.”

“You do?” exclaimed one of my friends. Like me he was no doubt trying to imagine Ingrid clad in sneakers and track clothing.

Ingrid nodded.

Behind the chair in which she sat Ingrid had arranged some fat purple-brown pods with other dried flowers. I knew these pods opened with a crack--a crack you could hear from a distance--before flinging out their seeds. One look at these wondrous pods and I was reminded of the transforming power of a new beginning.

“My life is saved,” Ingrid added after a moment. “My face is old. I am ashamed of my face. But my body, it sings.”

Movement and You
What is your relationship to physical activity? Have you despised exercise most of your life so that even the idea of a walk feels like a chore? Or do you crazily toss yourself from one activity to the next, from one new fitness phase to another? Perhaps you are one of the so-called weekend warriors, the people who do nothing physical all week, then at the first opportunity toss themselves into frenzied, extended exercise--pedaling all day on an ill-tuned bicycle or swimming nonstop across a lake. Or maybe you are relatively fit. You are disciplined enough to slip in three sessions a week at your local Y or health club, but you are terribly bored of the same old routine. In frustration you find yourself on the floor, your feet hooked under a heavy bar, forcing yourself to do dozens and dozens of sit-ups. Yet in spite of your efforts you do not achieve the results you want.

Throughout my life I have had the opportunity to live on different continents and learn from different peoples and cultures. In many countries I have witnessed the same erratic relationship to exercise that we North Americans have. In Russia I have seen people worn to the bone by the strains of daily life, as dog-tired as the stray mutts who sleep outside the metro stations; yet these same people will fire off a set of push-ups in their cramped apartments. They may not exercise again for months, even years. In South Africa I have seen activists pull on torn sneakers to jog ten kilometers and then smoke their lungs out at meetings afterward. In North America we use our cars to drive two blocks to a corner store, then we sit atop stationary bikes, often in front of the television, unaware of our posture or technique. In spite of an extensive background in dance movement and ballet, even I cut myself off from my body for twenty years, believing that intellectual pursuits were “noble” and physical ones “superficial.”
Table of Contents

Table of content


Heaven or Hell? Our Relationship to Physical Activity
--Ingrid's Story
--Movement and You
--Who Can Benefit?
--Movement with Meaning: The Intelligent Workout
--Mind/Body Connection

1. A Formidable Partnership 
Pilates and the Exercise Ball
--Coming Home
--What Is Pilates-Physiotherapy or Body Conditioning? 
--The Basic Principles of Pilates
--Why Pilates-based Ballwork?
--The Unique Power of the Ball
--Other Uses for the Ball
--Before You Start
--The Right Ball for You
--This Is Your Ride

2. Breathing and Breathers 
--Joseph Pilates's Story
--Back Breathing
--Breathing Patterns as Therapy
--The Breathing Exercises 
Breathing Observations · Back Breathing · Side Breathing
--Breathers--Cocoons of Readiness 
Breather One · Breather Two · Breather Three

3. The Postural Exercises
--Elsie's Story
--Postural Types
--What Is Ideal Posture? 
--Inside Out: The Postural Muscles
--The Postural Exercises 
Sitting · Bouncing · Spine Stretch Forward · The Saw · Round Back · BodySpheres: Seated Lateral Shift · Spine Twist · Mermaid

4. The Abdominal Exercises
--Edwin's Story
--"Life" and Lower Back Pain
--The Powerhouse and Lower Back Pain
--The Abdominal Exercises 
Navel-to-Spine · Little Abdominal Curls · Full Abdominal Curls · BodySpheres: Upper Abdominal Curl · The Waterfall · The Rollup · Leg Circles · Rolling Like a Ball · Single Leg Stretch · Double Leg Stretch · Obliques · The Rollover

5. The Extensions
--An Average Sunday: My Story
--Be Balanced, Be Sane
--Extension versus Flexion
--The Extension Exercises 
The Swan · Swan Dive · Shell on the Ball · More Extensions · Grasshopper

6. Pilates On the Ball Arm- and Footwork
--Jenny's Story
--Physical Fragility Is a Liability
--Inside Out-Benefits for Men and Women
--Resistance = Bone Workout
--Precision and Pace
--The Armwork 
Hug a Tree · Open Shoulders and Biceps Curls · Salute · Rowing · Flies and More Armwork
--The Footwork
Parallel Feet · Small Turnout · High Half Toe · BodySpheres: Leap Frog · Lower and Lift · Wide Squat

7. Restoration and Rebuilding
--Susan's Story
--Muscles Do Remember
--Pain Reduction 
--The Role of Abdominals in Back Care 
--Shoulder and Neck Problems
--The Ball as Therapeutic Partner
--The Rebuilding Exercises 
Hip Rolls · Hip Rolls with Balance · Shoulder Bridges · Hip Lift · Bend and Stretch · On the Side · Ball Balance · The Push-up · The Pike

8. The Simplest of Pleasures: Stretching
--Jeff's Story 
--The Benefits of Stretching
--The Ins and Outs of Safe Stretches
--The Stretching Exercises
Frog Stretch · Hamstring Stretch · Hip Stretch · Neck Stretch · The Shell · Side Stretches · Psoas Stretch · Shoulder Stretches · The Arch · The Squat

9. Stress Management and Cardiovascular Exercises 
--Roseanne's Story
--A Visit to a Relaxation Clinic and Other Stress Releasers
--The Cardiovascular Exercises 
Bouncing Plus · Bouncing with Arms · Foot Taps · Foot Kicks · Moving around the Ball
--De-stressing on the Ball: Relaxation 
Poses 1, 2, and 3

10. Pilates on the Ball For Life 
 --Journeys versus Arrivals: Lucy's Story 
--Honor Your Own Pace 
--Accept Yourself as You Are Today
--Three Workouts 
--Workout 1: Restorative Ball 
--Workout 2: Basic Ball 
--Workout 3: Intermediate Ball


Ball, Video, and DVD Ordering Information


Exercise Log

Pilates on the Ball DVD Directory

Author Bio
Colleen Craig is a certified Stott Pilates Trainer and writer. Her second book, Abs on the Ball, features over 100 innovative core-strengthening exercises using small and large balls. She lives in Toronto and teaches workshops throughout the world.


Back Cover

Back Cover Copy


Certified Pilates trainer Colleen Craig offers us a unique and exciting synthesis of the Pilates Method of body conditioning and the Swiss exercise ball, providing a new, low-impact way to get fit. Using the exercise ball, there is no need for the expensive equipment or studio time required in Pilates training.

Developed in the early twentieth century by accomplished boxer and gymnast Joseph Pilates, the Pilates Method--named by many lifestyle and fitness magazines as the hottest workout of the decade--aligns the body, builds long, lean muscles, and develops core abdominal strength. The exercise ball, used by Olympic coaches, dancers, and athletes to heighten body awareness and enhance performance, provides a perfect base for performing the graceful, strength-building Pilates movements.

Throughout her program Craig integrates the mind and body, offering breathing and relaxation techniques that accompany the ballwork. The personal stories and inspirational quotes included in the text illustrate how Pilates can improve your way of life. A handy exercise log makes it possible to track your workouts and monitor your individual progress. And, most important, step-by-step instructions and more than 300 photographs detail the Pilates principles and challenge all ability levels.

Intense enough to engage seasoned athletes yet gentle enough to alleviate chronic pain and help heal injuries, Pilates on the Ball builds strong, flexible bodies and healthy minds in an innovative way.

COLLEEN CRAIG is a Certified Pilates Trainer and writer. She lives in Toronto and teaches workshops throughout the world.

Mind Detox