Second Edition Essential Matwork series consists of
Videos referred to in this review: Second Edition Essential Matwork series, including For Beginners; Intermediate Matwork; and Advanced Matwork.
I've wanted to write a review of this instructor and her videos, as most of the reviews on this website are unenthusiastic. For comparison, I've done the entire Winsor Pilates series, including the advanced videos; Hilary Burnett's Intermediate and Advanced videos; and the beg./int./adv. video by Romana Kryzanowska (not reviewed on this website), heir to the late Joseph H. Pilates and filmed at the studio he founded in New York City.
Moira Stott-Merrithew is simply the best Pilates instructor I've seen. I couldn't imagine getting better training, short of joining a Pilates gym. The Stott videos are wonderful, beautifully produced and far outshine the other videos I've used, and Moira Stott's instructions are incomparable. At the beginning of each video, she takes time to instruct on how to engage and move each body part in the proper way, including abs, legs, ribs, shoulders, arms, and neck. Her approach is extremely thorough and meticulous, and though it takes patience to learn the particulars before going into the actual routines (her workouts are a little longer than most, around 50-60 minutes), it pays off so much in proper form and much deeper, more effective and safer work.
Her approach is explained by the following from one of her publicity statements: "A bulging disk in her neck prompted Ms. Merrithew to re-evaluate pilates as she had learned it in New York. To help facilitate this evaluation, she completed numerous exercise science courses and collaborated with physical therapists and sports medicine professionals. Ms. Merrithew has spent more than a decade refining the method of exercise to include modern principles of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation to make it safer and more effective."
This really shows in the quality of her instructions and routines. Now, when I use the videos by other instructors, I apply the principals I learned from Stott-Merrithew, but still don't feel I'm getting as thorough or effective a workout. The other instuctors by comparison seem to rush through the moves without adequate preparation. Although it's nice to save time with a shorter, faster workout such as those by Hilary Burnett, I try to make the time for Stott Pilates every week, or I feel I'm being shortchanged. (Moira Stott does offer a 22-minute series, but I haven't tried it).
Her beginning and intermediate workouts may seem a little more basic and slow than some of us are used to, but that is because she is taking care that we really learn and build the technique properly without rushing ahead too quickly into the advanced moves. Don't worry; once you make it to the advanced video, you will be in for quite a challenge. It begins with the same careful, meticulous instruction, but then builds and builds in intensity until by the end I am literally shaking, gasping for breath, and dripping with sweat. I haven't yet gotten through the advanced workout without having to pause the VCR to catch my breath in between moves. And it is not only challenging - it is simply a terrific routine with variations I haven't seen anywhere else.
One last thing about Moira Stott-Merrithew: in this series she does all the moves herself, in a very simple, elegant setting and elegant outfit, while talking you through the entire time. I've never seen another Pilates instructor do an advanced video without using models or voice-overs. She occasionally jokes about it - "Try doing this while talking the entire time" - but it is clear that she is one strong lady.
Once I master the advanced video, I plan to try others in her comprehensive series. Along with other mat workouts, she offers Fitness Circle, Flex-Band, Stability Ball, and Bosu workouts. For those who want to invest in home equipment such as a Reformer, she offers a comprehensive line of Stott Pilates equipment, which also comes with training videos. Many of her videos are available at CollageVidoes.com, but the entire collection can be viewed at her website, www.stottpilates.com.
In conclusion, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this series to anyone who really wants a thorough training and and extremely contemporary and safe approach to Pilates. You'll be doing yourself a favor.
July 4, 2003