Video Fitness

Stott Pilates Strong & Streamlined, Level 4

Moira Stott Merrithew

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it two or three times.

General workout breakdown: This Stott Pilates routine runs about 45 minutes; you can cut out just over 10 minutes by skipping the warm up exercises and starting in with the hundred.
The warm up includes breathing, imprint & release, hip release, spinal rotation, cat stretch, hip rolls, scapula isolation, arm circles, head nods, and scapula elevation & depression. The workout proper includes ab prep, breast stroke prep, shell stretch, the hundred, half roll back, roll up, one leg circle, spine twist, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, obliques (i.e. criss cross), double leg stretch, scissors (i.e. single straight leg stretch), shoulder bridge, rollover, single leg kick, breast stroke, saw, open leg rocker, neck pull, obliques roll back, jackknife, double leg kick, spine stretch forward, teaser, swan dive, swimming, leg pull front, hip twist, kneeling side kick series (front & back), seal, side bend, twist, and push up.
Moira moves at a brisk but not rushed pace that leaves you just enough time to set up for and perform each exercise fully. She includes a good number of repetitions, enough so you feel your muscles but not so many you’re bored.
Stott Pilates puts a slight twist on the Classical Pilates routines and exercises. They claim to have modified a few exercises and the overall order in keeping with more recent medical research. Moira specifically mentions their attempts to balance forward bends with backbends.

Level: I’d recommend this to someone practicing Pilates at the intermediate level. Moira does include some instruction, especially for the moves new to this series, and reviews Pilates principles, but she assumes you’re familiar with basic Pilates moves and doesn’t cue a lot of breaths. She does suggest a few modifications. (If you’re a true beginner, some of these moves may require more strength and flexibility than you have right now; any of Stott’s Level 1 or even 2 videos would be better suited for you.) I consider myself almost a solid intermediate; I have about three years of Pilates experience but am still working on improving my flexibility and strength. This is perfect for me right now, with just the right amount of challenge. This is definitely a step (albeit a small one) up from the Level 3 workout, Core Challenge. It’s roughly equal in intensity and length to the Intermediate Matwork video.

Class: 1 woman and 1 man perform the exercises while Moira walks around. (Moira does touch the exercisers to point out something or gently correct them, but she’s not exactly touchy feely.) The man shows some modifications.

Music: soft but very repetitive piano-based instrumental music.

Set: a brightly lit 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.

Production: crisp picture and sound (although with Moira’s voice being on the quiet side I usually need to turn up the volume a notch or two). The camera angles generally show all of the exercisers or zoom in on one as he or she performs the exercise. (During the workout I fortunately didn’t notice the couple of shots of the man’s crotch.)

Equipment: mat (or equivalent). All participants are barefoot.

Space Requirements: You should be able to lie down with arms and legs extended as well as to sweep your limbs to each side. Make sure you won’t stub your toes on anything behind you during the rollover.

DVD Notes: The DVD is meticulously chaptered by exercise. The main menu continues these options: Getting Started (a discussion of the equipment you’ll 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 Simple Stretches, 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 “I agree” to the disclaimers before it starts, and then there’s a Stott series introduction that I’ve yet to figure out how to skip.

Conclusion: This is a keeper. I began my Pilates journey with a live class taught by a Stott instructor, so doing these DVDs is always comforting to me, like coming “home.” I appreciate Moira’s meticulous instruction and the great chaptering of this DVD, too.
Now that I've mastered Core Challenge, I'll be alternating between this video and Stott's Intermediate Matwork video. Fortunately there's an Advanced Matwork video to look forward to, too.

Instructor comments: Moira has a wonderful knack for including an incredible amount of instruction and pointers. She has a rather quiet personality and soft voice, but she exudes grace, intelligence, and some humor. If you need your instructor to be peppy and perky, Moira’s not for you. I personally like her mellow persona.


March 7, 2006

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