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Everything you wanted to know about the STOTT PILATES method

STOTT PILATES exercise is ideal for everyone from young adults, active aging and prenatal clients to rehab patients and elite athletes

What is Pilates?

Pilates, pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates, is a mind-body exercise system designed to optimize physical fitness in people at every level of physical ability. Joseph Pilates (1880–1967) was a German expatriate who first made his mark in England during WWI by developing a series of exercises and innovative equipment to help prisoners of war regain strength and mobility. When Joseph Pilates immigrated to New York, the local professional dance community discovered that his conditioning technique, called ‘Contrology’ helped prevent injury and improve strength while maintaining long, even muscle tone

What is the STOTT PILATES method?

STOTT PILATES is a contemporary approach to the original exercise method pioneered by Joseph Pilates. Co-founders Lindsay G. Merrithew and Moira Merrithew, along with a team of physical therapists, sports medicine and fitness professionals, have spent three decades refining the STOTT PILATES method of exercise and equipment. This resulted in the inclusion of modern principles of exercise science, fascial fitness and spinal rehabilitation, making it one of the safest and most effective methods available. This clear and detailed approach forms the basis for STOTT PILATES training and Certification programs. STOTT PILATES is used by rehab, post-rehab and prenatal clients, athletes, celebrities and everyone in between.

STOTT PILATES exercises help both men and women of all ages develop optimal strength, flexibility, endurance and posture, without building bulk or stressing joints. The perfect complement to cardiovascular exercise, athletic training or rehabilitation, STOTT PILATES can help you tone your body, feel revitalized and move with ease

What are the 5 principles of STOTT PILATES?

The aim of contemporary, anatomically-based Pilates training such as STOTT PILATES, is to develop optimal neuromuscular performance by focusing on core stability, while safely balancing muscular strength with flexibility. Whether performed on a Mat or on specialized equipment, Pilates that incorporates modern theories of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation should include these biomechanical principles

STOTT PILATES Five Basic Principles
  1. Breathing
    Breathing properly promotes effective oxygenation of the blood, focuses the mind on each task and helps avoid unnecessary tension, particularly in the neck, shoulders and mid-back. Exhaling deeply can also help activate the deep support muscles of the body
  2. Pelvic placement
    It is key to emphasize stabilization of the pelvis and lumbar spine both statically and dynamically in all positions and throughout all movements. The two positions most often used are neutral and imprint. In a neutral position, the natural anteriorly convex curve of the lumbar spine is present. In most cases, when lying supine, the triangle formed by the ASIS and the symphysis pubis should be parallel to the Mat. This is the most stable and optimal shockabsorbing position and a good place from which to promote efficient movement patterns
  3. Rib cage placement
    The abdominal wall attaches to the lower ribs. The abdominal muscles must often be recruited to maintain the rib cage and the thoracic spine, in proper alignment. Often the rib cage will tend to lift up in the supine position or deviate forward in a sitting position, extending the thoracic spine. Pay particular attention while inhaling or elevating the arms. Engagement of the obliques will ensure proper alignment at all times
  4. Scapular movement and stabilization
    Stabilizing scapulae on the rib cage is as important as contracting the abdominal muscles during the initiation of every exercise. When stability is absent, there is a tendency to overwork muscles around the neck and shoulders
  5. Head and cervical placement
    The cervical spine should hold its natural curve with the skull balancing directly above the shoulders when sitting in neutral. This position should also be maintained when lying on the back. If there is a kyphosis or forward head posture, pads or pillows under the head may be necessary to support the head, and prevent overextension and unnecessary tension in the cervical spine

By introducing these principles and reinforcing them, awareness of how the body moves is developed. This mind-body awareness ensures focus on precision and control in any Pilates program

For more details on the STOTT PILATES Five Basic Principles download our illustrated guide with accompanying exercises

STOTT PILATES Five Basic Principles guide with exercises (PDF)

What is the difference between STOTT PILATES and other Pilates techniques?

STOTT PILATES incorporates modern exercise principles, including contemporary thinking on spinal rehabilitation, fascial integration, muscle conditioning and athletic performance enhancement. For example, some approaches may promote a flat back, whereas STOTT PILATES exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints.

STOTT PILATES places a strong emphasis on scapular stabilization, lumbo-pelvic placement and postural alignment, and optimal muscle activation. The repertoire of Matwork and equipment-based exercises contains a full range of preparations and modifications that caters to many different body types and abilities. The STOTT PILATES method focuses on functional fitness, making it applicable to everyday life

What are the benefits of STOTT PILATES?
STOTT PILATES a number of benefits
  • Builds core strength and stability
  • Improves posture and alignment
  • Increases flexibility, balance and coordination
  • Improves muscular balance and strength
  • Increases muscular endurance and tone
  • Prevents injury and heightens body awareness
  • Enhances athletic performance
  • Relieves stress and back pain
Why is Pilates one of the fastest growing methods of exercise?

People are increasingly interested in fitness modalities that help relieve stress and are kinder and gentler to the body, as well as the prevention of injuries with exercise programs that can be continued even as they age. People want to stay fit and functional, and to continue to look good for as long as possible. Pilates is an excellent choice for individuals of all ages and fitness levels who have a variety of fitness goals. Pilates is complementary to many traditional fitness routines and the mind-body connection can be useful in preventing stress related illnesses like heart disease

Can anyone do Pilates?

No form of exercise is appropriate for absolutely everyone, but the STOTT PILATES method is appropriate for most people. As with any training program, always consult with a medical professional before beginning. A modified program created by a well-trained Instructor may be recommended if you have any physical limitations. Everyone from serious fitness enthusiasts to rehab patients, elite athletes, and older clients will see a difference

How does STOTT PILATES differ from traditional weight training?
  • STOTT PILATES is three-dimensional; meaning exercises are performed in all movement planes
  • Spring resistance on specially-designed equipment more closely resembles muscular contraction
  • Emphasis is on concentric and eccentric contraction for injury prevention
  • STOTT PILATES exercise is customizable for special needs
  • Emphasis is placed on rebalancing muscles around the joints, correcting over-training and muscle imbalances that lead to injury
  • STOTT PILATES emphasizes improving strength and flexibility for more efficient movement patterns
  • STOTT PILATES exercise leads to an improvement in posture and body awareness
  • Weight training and STOTT PILATES can be combined in a fitness program and are a great complement to each other
Should Pilates replace my regular workout?

STOTT PILATES exercise is a musculo-skeletal conditioning program that focuses on strength and stability. STOTT PILATES is ideal in combination with some kind of cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, running, aerobics or aqua fitness, and is a great complement to a weight training program or athletic training. Pilates can and should be done as part of a complete fitness routine

I have a bad back… Will I be able to do Pilates?

Although you should always consult your physician before starting any fitness routine, a Pilates workout is gentle and controlled with a focus on core strength and stability. It is also important, however, that you work with a qualified Instructor to ensure you are doing the exercises correctly and avoiding movements that may not be recommended for your condition.

An experienced Instructor is able to modify the exercises to accommodate your limitations, continually challenge you within your ability, and monitor your improvements. Progress may be slow, but a consistent workout schedule with appropriately chosen exercises with attention and focus will ensure you see results

Is STOTT PILATES like yoga?

In some respects, Pilates is like yoga. Both are considered mind-body methods of movement; both emphasize deep breathing and smooth movements that encourage the mind-body connection. The difference is that while yoga requires moving from one static posture to the next, Pilates flows through a series of movements that are more dynamic, systematic and anatomically-based often incorporating resistance equipment. The goal with STOTT PILATES exercise is to strengthen the postural muscles while achieving optimal functional fitness

Can Pilates help me lose weight? If so, how much?

Pilates can be a positive addition to your overall weight-loss program. Weight loss occurs when the number of calories consumed is less than the number of calories expended. The most successful and healthy way to achieve weight loss is an exercise plan that includes an aerobic component coupled with a strength training element, such as STOTT PILATES exercise, and following a balanced diet.

Combining Pilates with cardiovascular exercise also offers additional benefits
  • Greater mind-body connection
  • Improved posture
  • Increased flexibility and mobility
Why do celebrities do Pilates?

Many celebrities choose Pilates because it improves physical appearance, stamina, stress relief, and focus. Pilates is an all-in-one system that provides strength training, core conditioning, muscle rebalancing and improved mind-body focus. Celebrity Pilates enthusiasts include: Cheryl Tiegs, Reese Witherspoon, Ellen DeGeneres, Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant, Sting, Rob Morrow, Martha Stewart, Cameron Diaz, Amanda Seyfried, Rod Stewart and Jennifer Aniston

Is it true athletes that do Pilates?

Despite its slow, careful movements, Pilates is not for wimps! Many pro athletes have discovered the benefit of Pilates exercises, such as NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, professional golfer Tiger Woods and entire teams such as the NBA’s Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards, MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers and the NFL’s Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers have all realized the advantage of incorporating STOTT PILATES equipment and instruction in training. STOTT PILATES can help athletes gain a different perspective on how their bodies function and perform

Can I practice Pilates at home?

Historically, Pilates was almost exclusively taught one-on-one. Today the options are greater: you can work with a personal trainer, attend group classes or even workout at home with the newest DVDs. Merrithew® has a comprehensive library of STOTT PILATES workout videos, with more than 150 award-winning titles.

The collection offers workout options for every skill level and ability, from beginners to high-level instructors