Stott Pilates Advanced Matwork, 2nd edition

Moira Stott Merrithew
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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Note #1: This is a review for the 2nd edition, which is different from the 1st and the current 3rd editions. Stott is no longer selling this version on their website, but copies are still floating around.
Note #2: Although from Stott’s Pro Series, this is a work-along video. I’m reviewing this as a home exerciser, not as a Pilates instructor (which sadly I’m not – yet?).

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it almost a dozen times.

General workout breakdown: This 51-min. Pilates matwork routine covers many of the advanced Pilates exercises.
The warm-up (8.5 min.) consists of breathing, imprint & release, hip release, spinal rotation, cat stretch, hip rolls, scapula isolation, arm circules, elevation & depression of scapula, and head nods.
The workout proper (42.5 min.) includes ab prep, breast stroke prep, shell stretch, hundred, half roll back, roll up, one leg circle, spine twist, rolling like a ball, single leg stretch, obliques (aka criss cross), slow double leg stretch, scissors (or single straight leg stretch), shoulder bridge (including leg lower & lift), roll over, one leg kick, breast stroke, shell stretch, saw, open leg rocker, neck pull, obliques roll back, jack knife, side kicks / side leg lift series (front & back, side leg lift, little circles, bottom leg lifts to meet upper leg), scissors in air, bicycle in air, double leg kick, spine stretch forward, teaser series (3-4 variations), swan dive, swimming, shell stretch, leg pull front, leg pull, hip twist, control balance, corkscrew, side kick kneeling, seal, side bend, twist, rocking, boomerang, and push up, ending with mermaid stretch, mini spine stretch forward, and thigh stretch.
Moira will do up to 8 or even 10 reps of some exercises; others might have 3-6 reps. The pace is controlled: not too fast, not too slow. A few brief moments find you waiting for Moira to finish setting up or providing the modification, but other times you’ll make quick transitions.

Level: I’d recommend this to experienced exercisers with an extensive Pilates background practicing at the very least at the intermediate / advanced crossover point in Pilates. I suspect truly advanced Pilates experts will find this too educational for their liking but for the rest of us mortals this is a real advanced Pilates workout. This video assumes you not only have familiarity with Pilates exercises of all levels but also a good deal of strength, flexibility, and coordination. Moira provides some modifications for some exercises, however, which makes this a great one for someone like me who’s making the transition from intermediate to advanced but has a few limitations in strength and flexibility. I’ve been practicing Pilates for about 7 years now, and this video provides me with a doable challenge, emphasis on the challenge! For me this is the next best thing to regular advanced matwork sessions at a Pilates studio, which I currently can’t afford.

Class: Moira alone, who instructs live.

Music: very soft instrumental music.

Set: bright interior space with mat in the center and a sort of oval pendant in the back. It’s rather blah, but like the music it fades into the background so you can focus on your form instead.

Production: clear sound, slightly fuzzy picture (this is a VHS transfer, IIRC). Moira’s voice comes through clearly and is louder than the music. The camera angles are usually total body shots and helpful ones at that.

Equipment: Pilates mat or equivalent. Moira’s barefoot.

Space Requirements: enough space to lie down with arms and legs extended and to sweep your limbs around. You should also have space behind your head for the rollover and other overhead moves.

DVD Notes: The DVD is meticulously chaptered by exercise except for the warm-up exercises, which are all in one chapter. The main menu’s options are 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 (bonus try the next level segments from Ultimate Body Sculpting and Essential Bosu, Stott Pilates equipment, meet the instructor, get in touch, Stott Pilates education, Stott Pilates Professional titles and Stott Pilates At Home titles). Two annoying things about using this DVD are the requirement to select “agree” to the disclaimers before it starts and a Stott series introduction that doesn’t seem to be skipable.

Comments: This is one instance where Advanced means it. (Same goes for Hilary Burnett’s Advanced Pilates video.) It’s not enough to be an advanced exerciser or to want a hard workout; you must know what you’re doing in terms of Pilates matwork. If you’re more interested in a challenging Pilates or Pilates-like workout, try Kristin McGee’s MTV Pilates Mix, Jules Benson’s Total Core Pilates, or Ana Caban’s Pilates Abs, which don’t require as much expertise in the advanced series of poses but will definitely challenge you.

If you’re looking for a more classical matwork routine, this isn’t quite it; try the Classical Pilates series instead or perhaps Hilary Burnett’s Advanced. This is Stott’s take on the matwork canon, and it’s not all that different except for some exercises’ form (e.g. the position of the lower back in a few moves) and order (e.g. the rollover comes later in the practice, and in the stomach series criss cross comes immediately after the single leg stretch instead of at the end plus the double straight leg stretch is not performed). Stott’s tweaking of form and order continues to this day, which I guess is why they’ve come out with a 3rd edition.
Even though I have great respect for the classical Pilates tradition, I happen to be very fond of the Stott Pilates method, mainly because the two live Pilates instructors with whom I’ve worked have been Stott trained. As someone who has some physical limitations I find the Stott modifications more often than not work well for me.

Instructor Comments:
Moira, as always, manages to include an incredible amount of information. Her impeccable form complements her detailed instruction. I like that in addition to cuing the exercises as well as including so much form tips and reminders - and some additional modifications to boot - Moira also discusses what you’re working. She’s not really concerned with directional cues; where relevant, you do one leg and then the other, whichever you choose. I’ve always liked Moira’s low key and professional demeanor, but she’s not going to appeal to those who need more energy, personality, what have you from their instructor.