Stott Pilates 3-D Balance

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

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

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This video has been reviewed; my purpose here is to raise a red flag for exercisers with sensitive areas in the spine. Normally, Stott videos are a tonic for bad backs, but the more advanced use of a stability ball here might be detrimental for those with weaknesses. A little about me: I'm an intermediate Pilates student and would be advanced except for spine limitations. I have an extensive library of videos - including many Stotts (all loved) - and take lessons at a Stott certified studio.

I tried 3-D Balance after enjoying good results from the Level 1 video in the Stott ball series - Core Balance. Core Balance is great for those "bad back days." Experiencing a "strong back day," I popped in 3-D Balance.

The way Rollup is done - starting in a bridge pose with neck on the ball and legs out in table, then rolling over while shuffling the feet back so you can lean forward from a seated position, then promptly crab-walking out to get back in bridge - was like trying to perform a circus act. The stomach series is replicated with legs on the ball, upper back on the mat, butt in the air - for example, single leg circles have one foot on the ball, spine straight up in bridge, the other leg straight toward ceiling and circling. My back popped audibly in double leg stretch which requires popping the butt up into bridge, calves on the ball while arms are circling and there my workout ended.

Again let me stress, Stott has many workouts which promote back health. This one, for me anyway, just went down the wrong path. Bad Back Sisters & Brothers: I recommend Gaiam's Balance Ball for Weight Loss over 3-D Balance.

Instructor Comments:
Moira is an excellent Pilates coach with a stickler for detail. Her constant cueing is valued by many yet some find it annoying.



This is a 40-minute pilates-inspired stability ball workout.

Stott Pilates has four stability ball workouts, Level 1 through 4. 3-D Balance is the Level 3 workout (Ultimate Balance is Level 4). Stott rates all its videos on a 1 to 5 scale for difficulty, and 3-D Balance is a 4 (Ultimate Balance is a 5, the most difficult). I am a strictly intermediate exerciser, and I was able to do all of the exercises presented on 3-D Balance(although on a couple of them it sure wasn't pretty!).

The setting is a corner of a studio with white brick walls and a pale wood floor -- attractive, and a definite improvement over some earlier Stott productions. The music is soft piano, very unobtrusive. The DVD has an option to work to the music only, but I learn so much from Moira's and P.J.'s instruction that I personally would never do this.

On the DVD the exercises are individually segmented, so it is easy to skip to the next one. The exercises are also separately chaptered, but note that, once the individual exercise is shown, the DVD returns to the chapter menu rather than continuing on with the workout.

The only equipment is a stability ball and an optional mat for extra traction. The workout is done barefoot.

3-D Balance is based on an intermediate level pilates mat routine (Ultimate Balance adapts an intermediate reformer routine). Since I have used several pilates mat videos, the exercises were familiar, although of course adding in the ball spiced things up.

The workout is co-taught by Moira Stott and P.J. O'Clair. They begin with Moira instructing and P.J. demonstrating, then switch places halfway through. Both Moira and P.J. are absolutely meticulous in their instruction. This may annoy some people, but I really appreciate it and learn from it. I don't feel the pace suffered for it. I've used some videos where Moira both instructs and demonstrates, and those did tend to drag a bit. Having two instructors solves that problem.

3-D Balance begins with 12 minutes of gentle moves which warm up the body while reviewing general pilates principles. I find this helpful both physically and mentally. Don't worry, the intensity picks up once the actual workout begins.

As noted, the workout is based on a pilates mat routine, so the names will be familiar to most: The Hundred, One Leg Circle, Scissors, Roll Over, etc. Incorporating the ball adds additional challenge to the stabilizing core muscles. For example, on the Oblique Roll Back, you are seated on top of the ball, which requires additional stabilization as you roll back and extend your arm behind you.

Intensity is also added to many of the exercises by incorporating a bridge position, with either the lower or upper body on the ball. My hamstrings, and to a lesser extent glutes, really feel this workout! For example, in One Leg Circle, feet are on the ball and the lower body raised up until the legs are straight (bridging) and then one leg is raised up straight and the circles are done. Much more intense than the floor version!

Occasionally modifications are mentioned, but I believe Moira and P.J. assume you would turn to the Level 1 and 2 stability ball workouts if you are having a lot of difficulty with 3-D Balance.

The DVD has a few annoying quirks. You must "agree" to Stott's legal disclaimer by pushing the "enter" button at the beginning of the DVD. Also you cannot skip the opening commercial blurb (although at least it is short and fairly tasteful). On the other hand, the DVD has some nice extras, particularly the clips (decent length ones, too) of the other Stott video offerings.

Although I had a harder time with a few specific exercises on Ultimate Balance, I would rate 3-D Balance and Ultimate Balance about equal in terms of overall intensity. I also must note that I own several ball workouts which I consider more difficult than either one of these, including Body Bar Equanimity, Fitball Lower Body Challenge, and TLP Core Foundations. However, the Stott workouts do the best job I've seen of incorporating pilates into stability ball exercises. Both 3-D Balance and Ultimate Balance leave me with a stretched out, peaceful feeling which my other ball workouts don't. I would recommend both 3-D Balance and Ultimate Balance to any exerciser who enjoys both pilates and stability ball workouts.

Instructor Comments:
Moira and P.J. make a good team, with P.J.'s warmth contrasting with Moira's more formal demeanor. However, Moira is a lot more at ease now than she was in her earliest videos. Both are top notch instructors.