Pilates on a Roll

P.J. O'Clair, Moira Stott Merrithew
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength , Foam Roller

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This 147-min. DVD contains one ~43-min. Pilates workout using the foam roller as a prop to add an additional balance challenge or aid in going deeper into stretches.
The workout has 34 total exercises. The warm-up exercises (12 min.) include Breathing, Transversus Connection, Imprint & Release, Unilateral Leg Lifts, Hip Release, Hip Rolls, Rib Cage Placement, Scapula Isolation, Arm Circles, Wrap Arms, and Head Nods. The main workout (30.5 min.) covers Ab Prep, Ab Pulses, Breast Stroke Prep, Shell Stretch, Hundred, Half Roll Back, One Leg Circle, Spine Twist, Toe Taps, Bend & Stretch, Leg Circles, Scissors, Swan, Footwork, Single Leg Bicycle, Leg Pull Front Prep, Knee Stretches 1, Bicycle 2, Mermaid, Push Up Combo, Twist with Round Back, Leg Pull Front Prep, and Port de Bras Prep.
The exercises are done at a deliberate pace, emphasizing quality over quantity with 3-8 reps for most exercises. Due to Stott’s attempts to keeping the body balance there is a good deal of switching position, including several series where you’re on the foam roller, then you’re on the mat, and then you’re back on the foam roller again. Moira and PJ allow just enough time to get into position. There is some hang time for a few exercises, but for the most part you’ll keep moving.

Level: Stott recommends this to experienced exercisers practicing Pilates at the intermediate level, rating this a 3 out of 5 (with 5 being the most difficult). I’d agree. This isn’t particularly hard or advanced, especially since a number of exercises are done in a modified form, but the addition of the foam roller does add a little extra challenge.
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’ve been practicing Pilates since early 2000, with a few short breaks here and there. I am brand new to the foam roller, having just acquired one. I found the leg series particularly challenging (pay close attention to your low back position here, as if you get a little lazy, as I did, you could end up with some stiffness there), and my core felt worked, but I definitely didn’t feel overwhelmingly challenged. The number of stretches sprinkled throughout left me feeling worked out and lengthened rather than wiped out and tightened.

Class: Moira and PJ take turns instructing while the other demonstrates the moves.

Music: soft repetitive piano music (if you have many Stotts you’ve heard this or something similar); fortunately it fades into the background.

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

Production: clear picture and sound, with Moira and PJ’s voices clearly audible over the music. (The one who’s being the student has her microphone muted, however.) The camera angles are helpful, with appropriate zoom-ins.

Equipment: a mat (or equivalent) and a foam roller (6” x 6” x 36”).

Space Requirements: enough space to lie down with limbs extended. I had enough puzzle mats down to create a space of 4’ by 6’ and had no problem staying within those boundaries, even at 5’8”.

DVD Notes: Yep, as per usual with Stott DVDs, after the initial warnings and all of that you have to hit “agree” and then sit through the Merrithew Entertainment / Stott Pilates intro (~35 sec.) before you get to the main menu.
Your menu options are Getting Started (What You’ll Need, DVD Tips, and Warnings / Cautions), Audio Options (Instruction On or Instruction Off), Workout Principles (Breathing, Pelvic Placement, Rib Cage Placement, Scapular Movement & Stabilization, and Head & Cervical Placement), The Workout, Chapter Selection (the DVD is meticulously chaptered by exercise), and Special Features (Bonus! Try the next level – which here are Dynamic Balance and 3-D Balance -, Stott Pilates Equipment, Meet the Instructor, Get in touch, Stott Pilates education, Stott Pilates Professional titles, and Stott Pilates At Home titles).

Comments: It’s worth noting that this is part of Stott Pilates Pro Series, meaning that it’s intended more for instructors to reinforce their Stott training rather than at home exercisers looking for a workout. That said, I feel this works well for the experienced Pilates student who may or may not be interested in teaching Pilates who’s looking for challenging sessions to do at home when he/she can’t make it to a suitable class. Besides, Moira and PJ instruct as if working with a student new(ish) to the foam roller.

For the most part the exercises worked well when adapted to the foam roller. For me there weren’t any glaring mismatches or exercises that seemed to be done just for the sake of doing something different with the foam roller. Obviously this routine is highly edited from the usual matwork selection, with one or two apparatus moves thrown in for good measure.

It’s probably no surprise that the focus of this workout seems to be on core stabilization. Not only will you feel this in your abs, including obliques, and lower back, but the long leg series reminds you that glutes and inner thighs are essential parts of the Pilates powerhouse. The upper body work includes a good deal of shoulder stabilization, too.

Those with wrist issues should know that there is some time spent on the wrists. Depending upon the firmness of your foam roller and your particular wrist issues the push-ups and planks with the hands on the foam roller may be uncomfortable or just tricky. Moira and PJ could have done a better job explaining wrist position and placement here, as it’s easy to have your wrists sink down too far, either into the roller or over the edge, which could aggravate some sensitive wrists.

At the time of this review, Stott Pilates has released this video twice, once in 2005 and once in 2007, but now seems to be pushing their Foam Roller Challenge from 2007 instead. The two videos are different, even if they’re both use the same prop, bear the 3 out of 5 intermediate level rating, and are from the Pro series. From preview clips it looks like FRC features Moira instructing alone as a student demonstrates the moves in a slightly different set (also an interior Pilates studio) and with a slightly different (but not really noteworthily so) soundtrack. More importantly, the FRC workout only runs 27 min. and covers 21 exercises (Breathing, Hip Release, Leg Slide with Extension, Protraction & Retraction, Cat Stretch, and Spinal Rotation for a warm-up; Ab Prep, Hundred, Half Roll Back, Roll Up, One Leg Circle, Breast Stroke, Spine Twist, Leg Work, Swan Dive, Shell Stretch, Push Up, Snake, Ab Prep from Extension, Shoulder Bridge, and Hamstring Stretch for the main portion). I had both on my wish list, and I happened to receive PoaR first. I can’t say at this point which one would be better for someone new to foam rollers or someone more experienced, if it’s worth having both, etc. I’m still interested in FRC.

Instructor Comments:
Moira and PJ switch off instructing, with Moira taking the warm-up and the second part of the workout (from the footwork on) while PJ does the first half of the workout proper. Both instruct and cue very well, focusing on cuing the moves, providing instruction on form and alignment, reminding you of the Pilates principles, and from time to time pointing out the purpose of the exercise (I like knowing what I’m working). Needless to say, there’s no extraneous chatter. PJ hasn’t made that much of an impression on me before, but I like her in this DVD, for whatever reason, perhaps because I’ve done so many videos with Moira recently it’s nice to have a little change. Moira is her usual self, as always meticulous with cuing and form instruction. Neither has a super enthusiastic or warm or exciting personality, but both bring knowledge and experience to their teaching, so if you’re OK with not having barrels of fun you’ll find top notch teachers.
Neither Moira nor PJ specify directional cues; there’s a lot more “lift one leg” and “now do the opposite side” rather than “right” and “left.”