Return to Life Complete Workout

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Discover what it's like to work out to the words and images of Joe Pilates himself, as written in his 1945 book, Return to Life. Alisa reads Joe's own text and demonstrates the movements. If you're already familiar with the classical mat exercises you'll be surprised at the differences! For instance, his instruction for breathing is very specific and can make rolling exercises much more effective, while "spread your legs as wide as possible" is a word-for-word Joe cue that is sure to make your Open Leg Rocker a lot harder. Enjoy this trip back in time to Joe's teaching circa 1945, there's a lot to learn about how we do the exercises now. Filmed at Pilatesology Studio.

What Others Are Saying


  1. sarabogle 5 months ago

    SOOOOO good. Thank you, Alisa!!! xo

  2. authentic1
    authentic1 5 months ago


  3. darien
    darien 7 months ago

    Oh, my goodness! Beautiful work Alisa:)
    So curious when the technique changed (i.e “stay in the frame of the body” as Romana used to say…) The Leg Circles? Good lord! Do you think he altered his original approach after watching so many bodies or was it Romana? – I remember she always said for Hundred, “3 inches below the waist and 3 inches above the waist) !!!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one who found this mat really mind-opening. In my opinion, I think it must have been Joe who taught his method different ways over the years for different people because as you know, Romana was insistent that this work should be applied to the needs of each individual. Perhaps for his book, Joe wanted to offer an inspirational image to reach for in each exercise, in the text he often refers to the idea that you might not be able to achieve the exercise as shown at first but that’s a good reason to keep doing it. And I imagine like anything else, these movements simply evolved a bit over time and versions that more people could start with became the norm. It’s very thought provoking!

  4. yelhsajane
    yelhsajane 9 months ago

    This was an some idea, Alisa! Thank you much for this! I enjoyed seeing some of the ways we have moved from the original exercises. Reading about movement will never be the same as viewing it. This is such a tremendous help!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Thanks yelhsajane! I really enjoyed the exploration too, it opened my eyes to reasons why we teach the way we do and perhaps to what Joe was aiming for when he put the mat together.

  5. loremiller
    loremiller 9 months ago

    Thank you so much Alisa for the clear reading and beautiful execution. It’s a great workout.!!

  6. Sigrid 9 months ago

    Thanks for this excellent new video Alisa. The explanations are very very helpful!

  7. agreen1983
    agreen1983 9 months ago

    Wow…i found myself wanting to watch and listen first…i will do the workout today…thankyou x

  8. Ynowak 9 months ago

    Beautifully done! What a brilliant idea to do the mat while it’s being read. There were definitely some exercises where I was cutting corners somewhere along the Way!

  9. Mary
    Mary 9 months ago

    Wow, that was great. Beautifully executed, Alisa.
    I have the book – both in paper and digital – and the poster and thought I had half a sense of what it was about until now. I’ve always been amazed at how much more I sweat when I do the 34 “by the book” as opposed to the “classical” order. This is about a lot more than order. I love the “At first you will probably not be able to carry out instructions…this proves …(the) benefit…with patience and perseverance you eventually should succeed…” My how we have strayed. My book must have edited out the reference to CHANGING the exercises if they don’t work for you. I am going to follow this class every day for the next 30.
    Really well done. Thanks

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      I cracked up many times at the descriptions in the book and at the same time, they really fed my workout and continue to do so. I get motivation and a deeper understanding of movement from them. Even if someone else other than Joe wrote these descriptions, I have to think that his voice is a big part of them. Thanks for joining me in the fun experiment.

  10. ewa.ewa64 9 months ago

    In my opinion it is not different at all; I mean having read RETURN TO LIFE a couple of times, this presents itself to me as a body in motion picture to the book! Perfect match:) Thank You, Alisa:)

  11. Interesting and very effective mat. Thank you for this work!

  12. Alisa Wyatt Author

    I agree, it’s different! It’s my interpretation of what he’s saying in the book, I’m super curious if others have different ideas when reading his words. Thanks for watching vlada_kor!

  13. vlada_kor 9 months ago

    Wow well that was a very interesting experience 😜 so different!?

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