Stott Pilates Fitness Circle Flow

Moira Stott Merrithew
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing it once.

General workout breakdown: This Pilates workout incorporating the fitness circle includes 31 exercises in just over 28 min.
The warm-up (5.5 min.) covers breaking, imprint & release, hip release, cat stretch, scapula isolation, arm circles, and head nods.
The workout (23 min.) includes ab prep, hundred, breast stroke prep, half roll back, spine twist, single leg stretch, obliques (aka criss cross), double leg stretch, scissors (aka single straight leg stretch), shoulder bridge prep, heel squeeze prone, breast stroke variation, shell stretch, saw, side leg series (top leg presses down, top leg presses up, bottom leg comes up to meet top leg), spine stretch forward, bicep press, mermaid, standing lunge w/ rotation, standing side lunge, standing pec pulses, standing tricep press, standing overhead throw, and standing roll-down.
Expect an emphasis on quality over quantity, with most exercises in the 3-5 rep range, although a few go up to 8 and even 10 reps. The pace is controlled, not rushed, and without too much down time.

Level: Stott rates this a 2 out of 5, with 1 being for true beginners to Pilates and 5 for advanced students, making this suitable for someone with the basics under their belt but not quite at the fully intermediate level. Iíd agree. A number of the exercises are presented in a modified form that makes them more accessible to those who donít have as much strength, flexibility, and/or experience working with props like the circle. Even though I consider myself at the intermediate / advanced level of Pilates (Iíve been practicing Pilates on average of once a week for the past 8 years), I didnít feel like this workout was a waste of time, as itís been a while since I dusted off my fitness circle plus any serious Pilates student knows that thereís always a little detail to perfect that can make even the most basic exercise challenging. That said, Iíll probably try to swap this for one of the level 3 Stott fitness circle workouts, which would be more appropriate for my level, although Iíd really like to see one at a level 4 or 5 offered.

Class: 1 woman and 1 man, both introduced as instructors, do the workout while Moira walks around and instructs live. Wayne shows a few modifications, which include sitting on a cushion for seated exercises and doing some exercises with the circle situated to engage the inner thighs while Natalie focuses on the outer thighs.

Music: gentle but upbeat bland piano music (the usual Stott soundtrack).

Set: bright interior space with white walls and windows onto nothing, with Pilates equipment and a few potted plants neatly arranged around the space.

Production: clear picture and sound, helpful camera angles.

Equipment: Pilates mat (or equivalent) and Fitness Circle (also known as a Pilates circle, Pilates ring, or magic circle, and youíll be just fine if yours isnít the Stott brand; I actually have a fitness ring I bought for cheap at Marshallís thatís a little different but works just as well). All participants are barefoot.

Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with arms and legs extended and to sweep them to each side.

DVD Notes: I have one of the dual language DVDs, which adds an extra step to getting this DVD to play the workout. First you have to choose your language (English or French), then you have to wait for the initial warning screen to come and go, and then you have to agree to the disclaimer. Once youíve done that, thereís a commercial for Stott products, which you can skip, and the standard Stott intro, which you canít. Finally you get to the main menu, where your options are Getting Started (What Youíll Need, DVD Tips, and Warnings / Cautions), Audio Options (Instruction On or Instruction Off), Workout Principles (Breathing, Pelvic Placement, Rib Cage Placement, Scapular Movement & Stabilization, Head & Cervical Placement, and Play All), The Workout, Chapter Selections, and Special Features (Bonus! Try the Next Level, which here is Power Paced Fitness Circle; Stott Pilates equipment, Meet the instructor, Get in touch, Stott Pilates education, and Other Stott Pilates video titles).

Comments: The fitness circle (or whatever you want to call it) is actually a useful little tool. The circle doesnít add much in the way of weight and resistence. What it aids is in focus and awareness, because you have visual feedback on how stable you are and because you have to concentrate to keep the circle in place. In order to keep it steady you have to concentrate just that little bit extra on engaging your powerhouse, you are reminded that your powerhouse isnít just your abs and low back but also includes your inner thighs, you have an aide in proper positioning like keeping your shoulders in their proper place, and you can add isometric contractions or small pulses to some exercises for a little extra muscle engagement.

Stott has released various Fitness Circle videos, including Flow; Power Paced Fitness Circle, level 3 with 32 exercises in 31 min.; and Fitness Circle Challenge, also level 3 but with 30 exercises in 32 min. From reading reviews here, these sound like updates of their old Fitness Circle workout. Stott also has a Pilates with Props series that incorporates the fitness circle with a few other Pilates toys. At this point in time I havenít tried any other Stott Pilates fitness circle workout.
There arenít a ton of videos out there using this prop. Iíve tried Karen Voightís, which are nice but not strictly traditional Pilates, and Iíve kept the Classical Pilates Magic Circle DVD, which is as traditional Pilates as you can get.

Instructor Comments:
Moira, as always, manages to include a lot of information as she cues, and the two modelsí impeccable form complements Moiraís detailed instruction well. Moira doesnít use a lot of directional cues; she tends to say ďone legĒ or ďfront legĒ rather than ďright leg,Ē for example. Iíve always liked Moiraís low key and professional demeanor, but sheís not going to appeal to those who need more of a cheerleader type or at least more personality to get them motivated. She is a little warmer here, with some interaction with her instructors-turned-class members.