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Your guide to the Merrithew™ Split-Pedal Stability Chair™ – how to use it and why it’s so effective for fitness clients and rehab patients

The Split-Pedal Stability Chair might not be as well-known as the Pilates Reformer or Cadillac, but this piece of Pilates equipment is just as multi-functional and adaptable, suiting everyone from rehab patients to recreational and elite athletes.

According to The Pilates Chair: From Classical to Contemporary, a fascinating article in IDEA about the history and evolution of the chair, it was designed by Joseph Pilates with small Manhattan apartments in mind— which is just one of its many advantages for small studios and home gyms today. At Joseph’s New York studio, it was used with rehab patients, for full-body conditioning workouts, and had a strong appeal among men who enjoyed using it to increase their upper body strength.

Merrithew’s Split-Pedal Stability Chair takes after the original model with some modern enhancements and innovations— such as a double-steel frame, two thick, padded pedals that move independently or lock together, adjustable handles that detach, easy-roll wheels, and four adjustable springs— for increased adaptability, sturdiness, comfort and programming options.

So why is the Stability Chair a must-have for fitness centers, boutique Pilates studios and health care facilities?

We asked physical therapist and Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer Cheryl Cote Alden to explain how she uses the Stability Chair at her studio and clinic Symmetry Pilates Center in Bedford, New Hampshire.

Why is the Stability Chair so effective for clients and rehab patients?

“The Stability Chair is effective for many clients because of the unique functional and strength challenges it can create for people of diverse needs. Due to the small size of the chair, clients need to engage the core musculature and stabilize in a manner used in daily life, being stable but not rigid,” Cheryl explains.

“You can use the Stability Chair to focus on balance, isolate ankle and scapular mobility or challenge flexibility and strength. For any given session, you can make the exercises more or less challenging with the adjustable springs based on your clients’ needs and abilities.”

The height of the Stability Chair makes it easy for people with injuries, who are pre and postnatal or post-rehab to get on and off, making it an appropriate choice for those with hip or knee injuries, or other mobility limitations. It is also ideal for clients who need to remain in seated or upright positions.

How do you use the Stability Chair with different clients?

Physical therapist and Merrithew Master Instructor Trainer Wayne Seeto demonstrates how to coach clients through the STOTT PILATES® Rehab exercise Footpress on Long Box using the Stability Chair to activate the glutes.

  • Use it to add variety to fitness clients’ workouts with strength and stability challenges
    “I like how the small surface area of the Stability Chair requires clients to engage more stabilizing musculature and provides feedback. Whether it’s controlling the movement eccentrically against the weight of the springs or teaching the client how to stabilize while allowing dissociation movement of the arm or leg, the Stability Chair is a great tool.”
  • Use it to identify functional imbalances
    “When clients do Footwork with the split pedal, for example, you can see whether they are pushing more with one leg. Can they maintain lumbar and pelvic stability while engaging the pedal?”
  • Use it to help clients young and old improve their balance and stability
    “I can challenge them more or less by adding a Rotational Disk or Stability Cushion under their foot with standing exercises like Footpress on Long Box or Standing Leg Press, a couple of my go-to exercises.”

How do you use the Stability Chair to complement the Reformer?

After introducing clients to the STOTT PILATES® Biomechanical Principles, Cheryl usually starts them on the Reformer. The large size of the Reformer’s carriage helps them feel stable, secure and fully supported. She uses the Stability Chair to add in a different element of balance and stability work.

“Due to the resistance level and number of springs on the Reformer, it can increase strength while the Stability Chair can challenge balance. The Reformer can work mobility while the chair can work stability. Although all the Merrithew Pilates apparatus can work all those aspects, having the variety to choose the one that works best for the client is key,” Cheryl says.

When training a variety of clients, it’s extremely beneficial to have access to multiple training tools. What works for one client may not be the best option for another. Having multiple ‘tools’ in your toolbox allows for variety of training, but also the ability to train a variety of clients.

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