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Social Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Pilates Difference by Jennifer Dufton (Basic Health Publications) Pilates is transformational to those who are doing it and intriguing to those who think about trying it, but haven't quite gotten around to it yet. Now both groups can bring this revolutionary system of exercise, commonly practiced in gyms, studios, and sports clubs, into their own homes. Pilates Difference by Jennifer Dufton is a guide for beginners as well as for those already enrolled in a Pilates program.

"In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference, and in 30 you'll have a whole new body," said Joseph H. Pilates, founder of the Pilates technique that is now a worldwide phenomenon. Its holistic methodology, combining Eastern and Western, philosophies, focuses the mind on individual muscles so as to strengthen and lengthen them. Among the benefits are improved posture, strength, and flexibility; the relief of aches and pains; decreased stress; and increased energy.

In Pilates Difference, Pilates instructor Jennifer Dufton explains the principles that are the foundation of the program: breathing, concentration, control, centering, precision, and flow. She describes how they inter-relate to bring about the mind-body connection that makes Pilates different from other exercise programs.

The home program begins with some basic preparation, including assessing your body as it is right now and becoming familiar with your anatomy your skeletal structure, your pelvic floor muscles, how you're breathing and how to breathe better, and your neutral spine position, for example. Full-color illustrations are helpful aids for this assessment. Preparation also includes planning the time you'll need each week and practicing some of the basic moves.

Step-by-step lessons, accompanied by full-color illustrations, are given for ten Level 1, ten Level 2, and ten Level 3 lessons, covering beginner to early intermediate levels. Specific body benefits for each exercise are explained, cautions are noted, and modifications are suggested for those who may need them. There are guidelines for assessing yourself, so you'll know when it's time to move on to the next level.

After the ten lessons in Level 1, you will "feel the difference," Dufton says; expect to stand taller, move with more natural ease, and feel more comfortable. Completing the next ten lessons in Level 2, you will "see the difference," with firmer muscles; improved flexibility, balance, and coordination; and less tension and stiffness. And after Level 3's ten lessons, you will experience "a whole new you," with the potential for a stronger, more streamlined body, greater self-confidence, and a more relaxed outlook.

This fully-illustrated, step-by-step guide makes it possible for anyone to start a Pilates program in their own home. When it's time to move on to finding an instructor and a work-out locale, Jennifer Dufton has suggestions on what to look for and where to begin looking.

What makes Pilates different is its mind-body connection. Following the program helps people think and feel better about their bodies, as it makes their bodies stronger and more flexible. Now, with The Pilates Difference, they can have a home coach to get them started or to fine-tune the program they have already begun.  

The Whartons' Back Book: by Jim and Phil Wharton (Rodale Press) End Back Pain — Now and Forever — with this Simple, Revolutionary Program

From nagging stiffness to excruciating twinges to incapacitating injury, back pain is one of the most pervasive ailments in America . On any given day, roughly 70 percent of all adults nationwide – about 31 million people – complain of back problems. Each year, sufferers spend more than $8 billion on medical care and over-the-counter remedies.

Now, anyone can attain relief from relentless soreness and jolting muscle spasms – naturally and permanently – with The Whartons' Back Book. In this hands-on guide, Jim and Phil Wharton – the celebrated father-and-son team of personal trainers and physical therapists, who count Patrick Ewing, Lance Armstrong, Michael Johnson, Julia Roberts, and 70 Olympic medal winners among their clients – apply their revolutionary fitness approach to back aches, from the neck down to the lumbar region. Known as "The Mechanics," the Whartons assure all sufferers: "By giving your back new life, you'll get your own life back."

Why does back pain plague so many people? For insights, the Whartons offer an illuminating lesson on the anatomy of the spine and its inner-workings. As they attest, the back is truly the epicenter of all the body's sensations, with vital links to the knees, hips, calves, and soles of the feet. They also explain how the everyday pressures of standing, walking, and sitting – particularly our daily doses of car driving, keyboard tapping, and television watching – can provoke and aggravate back problems.

Swiftly moving from discussion to action, The Whartons' Back Book empowers every besieged individual to get the better of his or her bad back. Step by step, the Whartons show how to treat and banish back pain with their trademark method: Active-Isolated Stretching and Strengthening. With a few basic tools – a sturdy chair, an 8-foot stretch rope, a set of ankle weights – anyone with back problems, chronic or acute, will master simple exercises to stop the pain immediately and prevent a recurrence.

Grounded in solid biomedical research and readily adaptable to a range of relief priorities and fitness levels, the Whartons' program conquers back pain by strengthening not only the back, but the whole body. Fringe benefits include enhanced mobility, more restful sleep, lowered stress, increased energy, and a more positive outlook.

Packed with photographs demonstrating exercise moves and inspiring case studies from former sufferers who got with the program, The Whartons' Back Book presents targeted workouts for both rehab and "prehab"—to protect against injuries and avert back pain before it strikes. In addition, this comprehensive resource features:

  • A thorough overview of the most common types of back aches – with targeted advice on how to identify the source and put an end to the pain
  • An eye-opening look at the relationships between back pain and obesity, stress, and lack of sleep
  • Tailored recommendations to protect and strengthen the back during pregnancy and against the toll of osteoporosis and aging
  • Specific solutions to back problems related to a range of situations – at work, at home, on the road, and at play
  • Authoritative advice on when it's time to seek the help of a physician and how to find the right back doctor

For the millions who know the pain of back problems from personal experience, as well as for anyone striving for a healthier body, The Whartons' Back Book is an indispensable guide.

Telling Tales in Sport and Physical Activity: A Qualitative Journey by Andrew C. Sparkes (Human Kinetics) is the first book to challenge and displace the tried‑and‑true and often atrociously dull writing styles employed by qualitative researchers of sport and physical activity. Author Andrew Sparkes breaks disciplinary boundaries to move the field into new and unfamiliar territory by encouraging qualitative researchers to think of themselves as storytellers, not just scientists.

Drawing inspiration from poets, novelists, and dramatists, Sparkes provides innovative examples of how, when, and why to use new writing practices to make research more readable and understandable. He also encourages researchers to acquire and nurture their own voices in their writing and to highlight the writing as a process of discovery, understanding, and analysis. The text features a thorough discussion of the emergence of new forms of representation and the shifting landscape of qualitative research within the social sciences; artful illustrations of how writing styles ranging from confessional to fictional, can persuade readers to more readily accept and believe what is written; a comprehensive evaluation of the methods that can be employed to judge and legitimize the different tales researchers are using to represent their work; an overview of what the future of sport and physical activity looks like if researchers make informed, principled, and strategic choices in their storytelling; and illustrations of how new approaches can be better and more beneficial in certain contexts and for certain purposes than the older, more traditional style of reporting qualitative research.

Researchers will neither view their own writing practices as innocent nor take them for granted after reading this book. Rather, they will find a new complexity and a new source of fascination in what they and others write. Telling Tales in Sport and Physical Activity is an essential resource for social scientists performing qualitative research and a perfect supplemental text for graduate‑level students who are beginning their research journey.


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