Stott Pilates Fitness Circle

Moira Stott Merrithew
Year Released: 2000

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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This tape is quickly becoming one of my favorite tapes for days when I want to do something different or additional. It uses the Circle; I use the Karen Voight Resist-a-Ring; I have used both and they work equally well. I have had the advantage of learning this workout from Moira Stott at a live workshop, so that may influence my opinion of this tape. I really, really like the workout. It feels very good and what is even better is that it is effective and works most muscles in the body along with increasing flexibility.

It is about 30 minutes long and has a large variety of exercises; the cover says 30 exercises. The time goes very quickly and you change from one move to the next. There is not a lot of instruction on this tape because there is another Stott tape that contains all the instruction (similar to the live workshop I attended). I think it is a big advantage to have the instructional tape to understand the form and the reason for the different exercises.

Moira starts out with some breathing. The workout consists of some moves for strength and some for flexibility (some moves combine both elements). Moira uses the circle in creative and wonderful ways. There are roll-ups (Pilates style) and you squeeze the circle between your knees.. There are variations shown for all the exercises (intermediate and advanced versions). There are hamstring stretches using the circle (you lie on your back and place your foot inside the circle, bend the knee and straighten it) There is also one where you are seated and place the circle around your foot and pull. There are seated twists where you hold the circle against your sternum. There is an exercise where you are seated and place the circle down on the floor and press down (you use your core stabilizers), another where the circle is to the side and you press with one hand (using the lats and core stabilizers). You do exercises in every position; some on the side, where you put one leg inside the circle (which is at ankle level) and one on top and you press down on the circle with the top leg, and then you lift the inner leg up to meet the top leg. There are exercises on your stomach, in which you hold the circle between your ankles with the knees bent and squeeze in that position. You also do some upper body lifts for the back. I love these exercises. She has a number of arm exercises, where you move the circle up and down while squeezing it at varying tempos. You work your chest, shoulders, triceps and lats using the circle. There is abdominal work, of course, all incorporating the circle (oblique twists, crunches and an exercise where you sit with the circle between your knees and roll half-way down and come back up).

It's a lot of variety for such a short workout. You basically work every part of your body. I like the fact that flexibility is an additional component to the exercises. It is truly unique and wonderful. I highly recommend it if you enjoy using props and want something different that feels really great.

Moira Stott is a very knowledgeable instructor. I like her personality; she is in wonderful condition herself (she is a mother of 2 adorable kids who were doing the exercises next to me at the workshop--with amazing form). I also like Karen Voight, whom I would say is similar to Moira in being more on the serious side. There are 2 participants, one man in the back doing the intermediate level and one woman in the front doing the advanced level. Moira is talking them through the workout and doesn't do the exercises herself. The woman in the front is obviously very conditioned (looks like a dancer or Pilates instructor), and is super-serious. At one point in the tape, Moira says to smile while doing one of the exercises, and the woman barely can manage one. This does not change my high opinion of this video, of course.



Like the Flexband workout, this tape features Moira alone, one on one with us. It features less introductory comments than most Stott tapes, and she gets right into the 25-minute workout.

A fitness circle is required for this tape, and it is quite a fun fitness toy. When I had a brief lesson from Moira in a live demo, she used the circle to help me stabilize my torso during a crunch, and correct my alignment during a spinal twist. In those types of exercises, I see the circle as being a useful prop for modifying a traditional matwork routine. There is a bit of that here (she does a modified hundred with thigh squeezes), but Moira seems less interested in traditional Pilates exercises here. Most of the moves seem calculated to spark your imagination regarding possible uses for the circle, and a large majority of the moves did not involve the "core" significantly. For example, there are several thigh exercises where you squeeze the circle between your knees, and you are completely prone for that. There are also quite a few upper body exercises: a biceps pushdown (lie on your back, prop circle behind your head, bend elbows and press down with hands) a similar standing triceps move where the circle rests on your shoulder to alter the focus, several chest and shoulder moves and some back presses. Several of the moves are quite innovative, and there is a very effective glute move where the exercise was only a bit harder than getting the ring into position was!

I had a lot of fun with the circle and can see myself modifying other tapes to incorporate it. In some places, it was a bit awkward; I can see height being a factor here, and clearly those with longer legs and greater flexibility in the hip flexors will have an easier time maneuvering the circle. I was using a circle from a company called "Balanced Body" and their promotional materials claim their ring is narrower than other Pilates circles, so clearly I am not the only one who has trouble in that regard.

I am not sure where this workout would fit in a traditional rotation. It involves strength work, but I wouldn't put it on a lifting day. It involves core work, but not the way traditional Pilates does. I generally have one day a week where anything goes, but it is too short to really fit that bill either. It is so fun and relaxing that I would almost classify it as the perfect cool-down to a weight training day: it involves stretching, and it works the muscles in a way that stretching wouldn't. It's a bit long for a cool-down, but if you have the extra half-hour, it would be just fine.



This is my first Pilates circle workout, so I donít have any other workouts to compare it to. It is also my first Moira Stott workout.

Moira Stott supervises to exercisers who actually do the workout. Most of the moves were gentle and they used the fitness circle. With some of the moves, the circle felt like a prop, but I did feel my muscles afterward, so they did get worked out.

After an excruciatingly slow start in which there was a discussion of breathing and how to move your chin when rolling up, the workout did move along better for the rest of the workout. There were a couple of moves that required you to hold the circle between your ankles and then flip over onto your stomach. I couldnít hold the circle between my ankles, so I never did do those moves. There were some nice stretches embedded in this workout.

The music was pretty nondescript. The exercisers both sat on raised platforms and the set was fine, but pretty plain.

Will I keep this workout? I donít know. I want to try it again and I want to compare it against other circle workouts. I did enjoy using the Pilates fitness circle.

Instructor Comments:
She came across as calm and knowledgable or dry and rather boring, depending on which part of the workout it was.

Laura S.


I really enjoyed this workout! I've practiced Pilates for several years now but have only one other video which uses the fitness circle. What I liked about this video is that it was a traditional Pilates mat workout, but adding the fitness circle made the routine even more focused on the abdominal area; I also liked that the circle provided additional work for the glutes and thighs. Moira Stott-Merrithew instructs two students, Miriane and Crispin, each of whom performs the movements in a slightly different manner.

The workout begins with a few minutes of breathing practice followed by some abs prep work without the circle. The circle is then incorporated into all of the classic Pilates mat movements, sometimes holding the circle in your hands, sometimes between your knees, and sometimes between your ankles. A few moves are modified to target a different area using the circle--for example, both leg circles and the saw became hamstring stretches. There are also various movements which target your arms, some done while lying on your back (and still pulling in your abs), and some performed in a seated position. At about 32 minutes, this video provided me with an excellent, full-body workout, and I plan to use it often.

Instructor Comments:
Similar to Mari Winsor, Moira instructs but does not participate in the workout. She has a very soft-spoken, gentle manner which is quietly encouraging of her students, and she offers excellent form pointers. Since this workout moves a bit more briskly than some of the other Stott videos, Moira does not come across as dry or boring here.

Beth C (aka toaster)