If you’ve ever incorporated any of the Merrithew™ barrels into your STOTT PILATES® Matwork classes, your clients probably know how great it feels to drape over the curved surface in a side-opening bend. And that’s just one of hundreds of exercises you can teach them how to do on this versatile exercise tool that challenges balance, strength, proprioception and control.
Our new Stability Barrel™ Lite offers the same functionality as the original with a few added features for convenience. Made from a strong and durable foam with a rubberized gel mat on the curved side, it’s 15 lbs lighter than the wooden version and can be stacked on its side for easy studio storage. It also comes with an additional mat that can be used on the floor beside the Stability Barrel Lite or on top of it for added padding and support.
What makes this product unique is its dual purpose design. It can be used on both the curved side and the flat side. The gentle curve provides support for multidimensional movements and the flat platform allows you to introduce instability into the repertoire.
In these five exercises, Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer Bianca Bolissian demonstrates how to use the Stability Barrel Lite to add a new dimension and restore flow to any workout routine.
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Exercise 1: Breathing Forward
Starting position: Barrel dome up. Sit at apex with knees flexed. Hands resting on shins.
Movement: Articulate forward from head to tail. Stay in flexed position for one or more breaths. Then articulate up from tail to head.
Tips: Ensure you start and end vertically to articulate the spine more effectively. Cue the abdominals to contract to pull the ribs towards hips on the way down. When breathing in flexed position, use hands or Flex-Band as tactile feedback to further encourage the posterolateral ribcage to expand. Sitting on the Barrel in the starting position adds comfort for clients who are tight in their hips and/or their low spine.
Exercise 2: Single Leg Stretch
Starting position: Barrel dome down. Supine on Barrel. Thoracic in flexion. Arms reaching forward. Legs in tabletop position.
Movement: Stretch one leg forward as low as pelvic stability can be maintained, allow Barrel to rock forward for further abdominal challenge. Return to starting position. Switch legs.
Tips: Decrease the range of motion and avoid the rock of the Barrel to minimize the challenge. To increase the work, make the transition smoother and switch legs faster. Cue the abdominals throughout so as to avoid overworking the neck flexors or anteriorly tilting pelvis.
Exercise 3: Scissors
Starting position: Barrel dome up. Inverted position on Barrel. Imprinted pelvis and spine. Legs together in parallel. Knees extended.
Movement: Maintain imprint position and scissor the legs for two counts. Transition legs and scissor the opposite leg for two counts.
Tips: Use the exhale when scissoring to aid in oblique connection to maintain the imprint. Ensure neck and shoulders are relaxed. Cue leg going into extension more than the one in flexion, which will encourage more length through the hip flexors.
Exercise 4: Swan Dive
Starting position: Barrel dome up. Pelvis at apex of Barrel. Legs abducted and laterally rotated away from floor. Full spinal extension. Hands under shoulders.
Movement: Maintain extension throughout and tilt body forward. Gaze moves down so cervical spine is consistently following the thoracic spine. Push up through arms to return to starting position.
Tips: Cue legs and glutes to initiate movement on the way down, keep chest wide so as not to lose extension of the spine. Cue back extensors to initiate on the way up and do not let legs collapse to floor.
Exercise 5: Push-Up
Starting position: Barrel dome down. Hands placed shoulder-width or wider on Barrel. Legs extended back, feet hip-width apart.
Movement: Bend elbows and lower body towards Barrel as much as stability of shoulder girdle can be maintained. Push up and extend elbows to starting position.
Tips: Modify with knees down if too challenging for spinal and/or shoulder stability or do exercise in dome up position. Modify with legs together to increase challenge. Watch that the scapulae retract when lowering and protract back to starting position on the way up.
Want to find out more about the Stability Barrel Lite, including its key features and uses? Click here.