My latest review is up now, Ron Fletcher’s book, “Every Body is Beautiful”.
A few of my pilates teacher friends on and I decided to start a new Facebook group, dedicated to books about pilates, pilates history, movement, yoga, nutrition, essential oils – everything! We call it The Pilates Book Review and Discussion Group. We are 432 members and growing!
Every few weeks, we review a different book and open it up for discussion with other teachers and lovers of movement. It’s fun! Join our group – it’s a great way learn about new books and decide whether or not you want to buy the book yourself!
Book Review: Every Body is Beautiful, Reviewed By: Elaine Ewing
Title: Every Body is Beautiful, By: Ron Fletcher
First Published:1978, Edition: first Year: 1978
Format: hardcover book, Pages: 217
Availability: Used on Amazon, eBay, used book store
To Buy or Borrow: Buy if you like to collect books
“Every Body is Beautiful” Review
Every Body is Beautiful was written by Ron Fletcher, one of the Pilates Elders. It’s one of my favorite books I have in my collection because of all the historical content. Most of the photos are of celebrities of the day (Ali MacGraw, Candice Bergen, Sandy Duncan, etc), doing his movement sequences, which is fun to see! He also uses interesting language throughout the book when referring to his method and the photos of the exercises are interesting to me as a Pilates teacher (all of which I’ll elaborate on in a bit!).
The inside flap of the book explains, “Ron Fletcher’s Contrology program doesn’t strain the body or test it’s strength but firms, tones, and improves the entire system,” and continues, “Here at last, in book form, is Ron Fletcher’s Contrology program of mind, body, breath, and spirit….”.
Of course, Ron Fletcher created the percussive breathing, which is why he included “breath” in that description. Even still, I find that a good word to use and now I wonder why I don’t read as a description of pilates that more often?
The table of contents is:
- Good Breathing
- Body Awareness
- Body Alignment
- Good Eating
- Twelve wake-up steps
- Movement Experience and the Aging
- Movement Experience and Pregnancy
- Movement Experience and the handicapped
- Movement Sequences
From there it lists Easy, Intermediate, and Advanced Sequences
Throughout the book, there are many, many testimonials about working with Ron Fletcher and his method, written by both famous and non-famous people. The testimonials give glowing reviews and are often humorous as well, “There I was thinking how adorable I looked in my little tennis skirt when I bumped into Ron. The ‘Master’ took one look at my knees and went, ‘Aggh!'”.
Some of the cuing in the book is familiar to me, and cool to read about from back in 1978. In describing how to connect and engage the core muscles, Ron writes,
“Hold on to your buns and engage your stomach. Is it bulging? Pull it back towards the spine as much as possible. Can you feel the coresponding muscle action underneath your butt?…They work together. When you tighten the butt muscles, the abdominals work with them to make a flat belly and tight buns.”
I enjoy reading the easy-going yet clear instructions like that throughout the book. It gives me a feeling of what the California-y atmosphere of his studio must have been like at the time.
As a pilates teacher myself, personally, I am a teacher of the New York method of Pilates. So to me, when I look at the nearly 80 pages of Movement Sequences (which are all done either standing or down on the floor, no equipment is shown), I see very little that looks like Pilates exercises that I teach. To me, the movements seem more dancerly, stretchy. Actually they seem really cool. So this is not a judgement and just an observation that I found interesting. Much of the cuing (like I sampled above) is familiar to me though many exercises are not.
Exercises I recognize from Classical Pilates, though still a bit different, are:
- a half roll up (“Kitty Tanen’s Abdominal Flattener”)
- a combination of Single Leg Kick and Double Leg Kick (“Candice Bergen’s Back Stretch and Leg Shaper”).
- Thigh Stretch (on the mat, and here it’s called “Katharine Ross’ Thigh Hinge and Back Arch”)
- a combination of a push up and Swan Dive (the push ups have the fingers pointed inward, and it’s called “Richard Schrum’s Push Up with Swim”)
And there are a few more. Since I was never lucky enough to have worked with Ron or been to his studio, I’m not sure- is this book is a sampling of exercises his created, and he also taught exercises that Joseph Pilates created but chose not to add them to this book? Perhaps others reading this article who did know him and worked with him can share some more information about how and what he taught. That would be great!
The Hundred is not shown. One exercise I found that looks similar is “Jim Levert’s Belly Flattener with Leg Stretch”. It starts out with the familiar set up, but then instructs to pump the arms 4 times and inhale on the downbeat. After that, the legs open wide and the arms reach between the legs and pump 4 more times with 4 exhales. This should be repeated 8 times. Interesting and different!
Another part that I found interesting was his introduction to how to start the program when at home. He writes, “It’s not necessary to do them in any particular order or do any particular number. Experiment with one or two movements that appeal to you from each group first and then try some others…. And remember this, please: It’s not how much you do but how you do it that makes for more enjoyment of a better body.”
What struck me about that was how different it was from the writings of Joseph Pilates, who was practically yelling at everyone through his books about how we’re all doomed without his method and demanding that we stick to his order and not to move on to the next exercise in that order until the one before was mastered!
From this book, I think that Ron seems like he was a nice teacher and lover of movement, who was loved by many, and whose clients achieved results through his method and version of Pilates. Its a very interesting read and feels like looking through a window in his studio. A cool book to have!