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Move through the History of Matwork in Chicago

The history of Pilates is one of immense inspiration and also immense change.

 In this unique workshop at the upcoming Merrithew Mindful Movement Symposium in Chicago Sept. 8-10, you’ll journey with us as we examine the history of Pilates, from the Contrology of Joseph Pilates’ original studio, to the research-based modifications and additions of STOTT PILATES®.

Advanced Matwork: From then to Now workshop participants will learn firsthand the evolution of Pilates, from the way it was to the way it is, for a fuller, more in-depth understanding of Pilates as a whole. Participants will move through the classic and contemporary repertoires, experiencing the Advanced Matwork exercises as they were originally taught, and discussing how updated scientific information was and continues to be integrated into the Matwork repertoire. They will also learn how modifications were first introduced into the repertoire and how these variations add to the applicability of higher-level exercises.

Key notable updates to the original method covered in the workshop include:

Neutral Spine Alignment
The original approach taught flattening/straightening the spine. Pressing the lower back into the mat eliminated the natural curves of the spine, resulting in the lumbar spine being constantly in a state of flexion. Neutral spine alignment maintains the natural extension of the cervical and lumbar spine, and natural flexion of the thoracic spine.

Cervical Alignment
During flexion exercises, cranio-vertebral flexion was introduced to ensure stability of the head on the cervical spine. During extension exercises, encouraging stability through the shoulder girdle and allowing the ribs to open facilitates thoracic extension and the ability for the cervical spine to extend freely without strain.

The cervical spine should be a continuation of the entire spine during flexion and extension exercises.

Essential Repertoire
The creation of an Essential level that consisted of preparations and modifications brought focus on the local and global muscular stabilizers and established effective movement patterns.

Exercise Order
The order has been adjusted to ensure a more balanced workout. The importance of balancing the muscular support around the joints led to the original order of exercises being changed to ensure movements were not always biased toward flexion.

Shoulder Girdle
The importance of balanced scapular stability and mobility without rigidity was introduced to promote awareness of scapulohumeral rhythm.

An ongoing commitment to incorporating the latest research on fascial integration, functional movement and rehabilitation into our educational courses and workshops.

Advanced Matwork: From then to Now will be led by Moira Merrithew, Co-founder and Executive Director of Merrithew. Register for the Merrithew Mindful Movement Symposium in Chicago, find Merrithew training near you with the Training Finder, or consult with an Education Advisor at or call 1-800-910-0001, ext. 300. 

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