Video Fitness

Stott Pilates Core Challenge

Moira Merrithew

Iím reviewing this workout after doing it a number of times since receiving it about six months ago.

General workout breakdown: The workout begins with the traditional Stott warm-up: breathing, transversus connection, spine imprint & release, hip release, spinal rotation, cat stretch, scapula isolation on all fours, arm circles, and head nods. This is to remind you of Pilates principles, realign yourself, get yourself centered, etc. You then put everything together in ab preps (aka basic crunch) and breaststroke prep. After a quick shell stretch, the matwork begins, moving from the 100, half roll back, roll up, one leg circle, spine twist, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, obliques (aka criss cross), double leg stretch, scissors, shoulder bridge with leg extension, roll over, breast stroke, another shell stretch, saw, neck pull, side kicks (front & back), side leg lift & circles, swan dive (without rolling), swimming, yet another shell stretch, leg pull front, side bends, and push ups. You then end with a variation of the mermaid stretch performed with both legs crossed in front and some rotation as you bend to each side.
The entire workout takes about 35 minutes (about 30 if you skipped the warm-up). The focus is on the abs, with some back, lower body, and upper body work. Most exercises have about 5 repetitions, with some having as low as 2 and some as high as 10. I feel thereís an appropriate number of reps for each exercise, and I didnít ever get bored because something went on too long or feel cheated because something wasnít repeated enough. I think the pace of this workout is just right: not too fast or rushed, not too slow. There is just enough time to set up for each exercise, and Moira doesnít leave you hanging to stop and explain each exercise before doing it. (Most of her instruction comes instead during the exercise.)
Stott bills itself as a contemporary approach to Pilates. It incorporates traditional Pilates moves, with some slightly different takes on form and order.

Level: This workout is listed as a ďlevel 3,Ē with 1 being the easiest and 4 being the hardest. I would recommend this to an intermediate Pilates exerciser. A beginning Pilates exerciser should consider level 1 because thereís not enough form instruction here for those completely new to Pilates, and several moves are quite challenging. A high intermediate to low advanced Pilates exerciser should consider level 4. I consider myself a low intermediate. I have about two years of Pilates experience but still have limited strength and flexibility. I find this workout appropriately challenging.

Class: One woman and one man demonstrate the moves, with one exerciser offering modifications for people with lower back issues and/or tight hips. Moira walks around and instructs.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The upbeat piano-based instrumental music is very repetitive; I usually am able to tune it out fairly easily. The workout is in a white room with windows on both walls, with various Pilates equipment and a potted plant arranged around. Both exercisers are up on platforms, with the one in the back raised a little higher. Moiraís voice is quiet, so the sound seems a little soft. But overall Iíd say the picture and sound are crisp and clear.

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). The modifier uses a small pillow (a folded towel would also do). Everyone is barefoot.

DVD Notes: The DVD is meticulously chaptered by exercise. The main menu continues these options: Getting Started (a discussion of the equipment youíll need, tips on how to use the DVD, and some cautions), Audio Options (instruction on or off), Workout Principles (5 segments explaining breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, shoulder blade movement & isolation, and head & neck placement), The Workout, Chapter Selection, and Special Features (including the options to preview a decent chunk of the next level, an overview of Stott Pilates equipment, an introduction to Moira, ways to contact Stott Pilates, a blurb on Stott Pilates education, and quick overviews of other Stott Pilates videos). There are only two annoying things about using this DVD: you have to push ďI agreeĒ to the disclaimers before it starts, and then thereís a Stott series introduction that Iíve yet to figure out how to skip.

Conclusion: I have to admit that Iím partial to the Stott method because I learned Pilates via a live class with a Stott-trained instructor. I appreciate the warm-up, which most Pilates videos donít have.
Iím definitely keeping this one. Itís a solid Pilates workout, and as I mentioned I like Moira and Stott Pilates. I try to do this one once a week. I recently acquired Strong & Streamlined, Level 4, for when I outgrow this one, but it might be a bit before I have to make the switch. Iím not sure what Iím going to do when I become too advanced for any of Stottís videos, but fortunately that wonít be for a few years!

Instructor comments: Moira is a calm, low key instructor--my cup of tea! If you need a larger than life personality or someone whoís very energetic, you probably wonít find Moira inspiring. The whole time she walks around or stands off to one side instructing, occasionally correcting or pointing out how the students do the move. She comes off as kind yet serious about Pilates. In fact, she spends the entire workout cueing and instructing, with no side chatter about weight loss or burning calories or conversing with her exercisers. Somehow Moira cues breathing and moving, all in the same breath. She works both sides evenly. I canít really say if she mirror cues, but it doesnít matter much with Pilates; I shift around in front of the TV and have never had trouble figuring out where I am in the workout.

KL (KathAL79)

August 3, 2005



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