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. Silke 3 months ago

    I loved the way how you explained the exercises – a good way to correct myself…thank you!

  2. Jennifer Allen

    WOW! That was awesome! Many thanks, Alisa!! :))

  3. Pilates24
    Pilates24 4 months ago

    What great way to end the 14 day challenge! Fabulous. Thank you!!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Thanks for joining me on the challenge it was such a great restart I’m still going! xx

  4. Molly Niles Renshaw
    Molly Niles Renshaw 5 months ago

    Omg I love this workout! His words are amazing “sit back on rump” “Jacknife up in a snappy fashion”. Too good. Perfect ending to my 14 day challenge! xx

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      I know the words crack me up every time, it’s so fun to work out to them. Have a great rest of your day Molly! xox

  5. Kim Reis
    Kim Reis 5 months ago

    LOVED this workout (and your outfit 😉)!!! Incredibly awesome to do the exercises in coordinated time with the original script. Brilliant! I always have trouble with Scissors/Bicycle and loved the cue of “move feet well beyond your vision.” That differs from how we were taught, but it made so much sense in my body! So many more juicy tidbits in there. Can’t wait to do it again! What a great way to close out the 14 day Challenge. Thanks for your unending commitment to the authenticity of the work. Bravo!!!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Isn’t it fun to hear his words? It took a long time to get them into a format I could practice to because the book is very step by step but it was so worth it. And there’s a few exercises that I’m not sure I interpreted the movements as he meant — Double Leg Kicks for example. If you or anyone else in here has another idea what he was asking for post it in the Pilatesology Community group on Facebook😜. Congrats on completing the challenge Kim!

  6. aslavitt 5 months ago

    Great workout! Thank you Alisa! You look amazing! Anna

  7. McLachlan 5 months ago

    The best for last! Effortless effort as you move.

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Thank you so much! It was really great for me to do this challenge with all of you. I’m going to keep going with daily workouts it makes all the difference :).

  8. Pfplus 5 months ago

    This was a great workout!! Interesting, different and challenging!! Thank you! And thank you so much for encouraging the 14 day challenge! It was fabulous!! xo

  9. Prafferty5
    Prafferty5 5 months ago

    What an experience to do this workout !
    Simple , clean & soooo into the actual movement of my body . Your voice yes was lovely , soothing , calm yet animated . Thank you ♥️💜♥️
    Thank you for your 14 day challenge . It was not only a physical comeback for me but mental and emotional stability . God bless you both X

  10. Kelly Hurley
    Kelly Hurley 8 months ago

    This got me sweating! and i found so many muscles which needed work- either to strengthen or stretch! going to keep coming back to this one. thanks Alisa x

  11. sarabogle 2 years ago

    SOOOOO good. Thank you, Alisa!!! xo

  12. authentic1
    authentic1 2 years ago


  13. darien
    darien 2 years 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!

  14. yelhsajane
    yelhsajane 2 years 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.

  15. loremiller
    loremiller 2 years ago

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

  16. Sigrid 2 years ago

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

  17. agreen1983
    agreen1983 2 years ago

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

  18. Ynowak 2 years 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!

  19. Mary
    Mary 2 years 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.

  20. ewa.ewa64 2 years 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:)

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

  22. 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!

  23. vlada_kor 2 years ago

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

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