Stott Pilates Core Balance

P.J. O'Clair, Moira Stott Merrithew
Year Released: 2002

Categories: Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Pilates/Core Strength

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This DVD contains one 49-min. workout taking Pilates principles and some basic Pilates exercises (or at least preparatory work) to the stability ball.
After a short introduction from Moira (1 min.), the warm-up (15 min.) begins with a review of Pilates principles and body placement on the ball, including breathing, thoracic extension, arm circles, and neutral & imprint, before releasing with mermaid and cat stretches and moving onto scapula isolation, hip release, hip rolls, and head nods.
The workout proper (34 min.) runs through ab prep on both the mat and ball, breast stroke prep, shell stretch, hundred, half roll back, half roll up, spine twist, one leg circle, single leg stretch, obliques (aka a criss cross variation), double leg stretch, shoulder bridge prep, roll over prep, heel squeeze prone, breast stroke, neck pull prep, side kicks & side leg lift series (forward & back, slight up & down, and little circles), spine stretch forward, teaser prep, single leg extension, swan dive prep, swimming prep, leg pull front prep, retraction & protraction, push up prep, and mermaid.
As always in Pilates, quality is stressed over quantity, with most exercises done in 3-8 reps. The pace of the exercises themselves are deliberate. There are some pauses between exercises as Moira and PJ explain the upcoming move and set up for it.

Level: Although rated Level 1 and thus serving as the introductory video to Stott’s at home stability ball series, this is also rated as a 3 out of 5 difficulty, with 5 being the most difficult. I’d recommend this to somewhat experienced exercisers who have some Pilates background, probably at the beg. / int. through maybe int. level of Pilates. You needn’t have much stability ball experience, however, as this serves as a great introduction to working on the stability ball. If you’re beyond the intermediate level of exercise and Pilates and/or have lots of stability ball experience you may be better off with Levels 2 or 3.
I consider myself at the int. / adv. level of Pilates, comfortable with the all but the most advanced matwork exercises and somewhat limited in strength and/or flexibility in a few spots; I am a relative novice at stability ball workout, however. I am kicking myself for not acquiring this video before venturing into stability ball workouts, including other Pilates videos with the stability ball, but I hope using it a few times more will help me feel more comfortable with this piece of equipment so I can get more out of them all. As someone who’s been practicing Pilates for something like 7 ½ years, including two stints of live classes with Stott-trained instructors, I found elements of this, particularly the warm-up, too elementary for me, although it’s never a bad thing to be reminded of the basics in Pilates as one moves up in difficulty. Did I get a real workout with this video? Well, I didn’t exactly feel the burn, but I did have to work my core - and my poor hamstrings - while learning to stabilize or move on the ball in a Pilates way.

Class: When Moira is instructing, PJ is demonstrating as the “student,” and vice versa.

Music: soft but very repetitive piano-based instrumental music. (If you have other Stotts you’ve heard this before.)

Set: a brightly lit white room with windows on both walls, with a few stability balls and a potted plant or two arranged around the perimeter.

Production: crisp picture and sound. The camera angles are very helpful, with the zoom-ins always relevant, clear, and at appropriate times.

Equipment: mat and stability ball (or Swiss ball or whatever you want to call it). Moira, who’s around 5’4”, uses a 55 cm ball, while PJ, who’s 5’8 ½”, uses a 65 cm. I’m about 5’8” (no ½), and I used a 65 cm, which only seemed a hair too big in the heel squeeze prone and rollover prep. Moira and PJ are both barefoot.

Space Requirements: enough space to sweep your limbs around plus roll around on your ball; you’ll need a longish space, but it doesn’t have to be too deep or wide. I used an extra foot or two beyond each end of my mat, for example, and made sure I could stick my arms out to the side.

DVD Notes: Please note that this has been rereleased at least once. I’m reviewing what I think is the original edition.
The main menu options are Getting Started (What You’ll Need, DVD Tips, Warnings / Cautions), Audio Options (Instruction On, Instruction Off), Workout Principles (Breathing, Pelvic Placement, Rib Cage Placement, Scapular Movement & Stabilization, Head & Cervical Placement), The Workout, Chapter Selection (The DVD is meticulously chaptered by exercise), and Special Features (Bonus – Try the next level!, which here is Level 2 Dynamic Balance; Stott Pilates equipment, Meet the instructor, Get in touch, Stott Pilates education, Other Stott Pilates video titles).
Two annoying things about using this DVD: you have to push “I agree” to the disclaimers before it starts, and then it plays a Stott series introduction that I’ve yet to figure out how to skip.

Instructor Comments:
Moira and PJ switch off instructing: Moira leads the warm-up and from the side kicks on to the end, while PJ leads from the ab prep through neck pull prep. Both instruct live and cue very well, focusing on cuing the moves, providing instruction on form and alignment, reminding you of the Pilates principles, and pointing out the purpose of the exercise. Needless to say, there’s no extraneous chatter, as they don’t have any breath for it! The directional cues mostly come when they’re on their side; when they’re facing the viewer, they don’t often specify which side they use first. Neither has sparkling, super enthusiastic, exciting personality, but both bring knowledge and experience to their teaching, so if you’re OK with not having barrels of fun but rather focusing on form you’ll find top notch teachers.