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Exercise of the Month: STOTT PILATES® Half Roll Back and Roll Up

Throughout the month of March, the Merrithew® Instagram account has celebrated March Matness by presenting a range of exercises incorporating Pilates mats. Watching all that can be accomplished through matwork, it doesn’t take long to realize just how integral a piece of equipment the mat can be.

As we learned earlier this month through Merrithew Master Instructor Trainer Laureen DuBeau, matwork might have a reputation for being a beginner Pilates exercise, but its applications reach beyond basic foundations.

In the Exercise of the Month video above, fellow Merrithew Master Instructor Trainer PJ O’Clair takes us through a pair of intermediate matwork exercises — STOTT PILATES® Half Roll Back and Roll Up — that work to strengthen the core and help gain a better understanding of the connection between the pelvis and femurs.


  • All that’s needed for this exercise is a mat and a maple Roll-Up Pole (although, a towel can be used in its place)
  • Pay close attention to PJ’s breathing instruction and the specific movement to which it’s aligned
  • Be mindful of staying symmetrical throughout the exercises
  • If there is any lower back tension during the Roll Up, legs can be kept in a bent position
  • The movements may seem simple, but the amount of control necessary to do these exercises properly is anything but easy

Merrithew Connect has exercises that cover Essential, Intermediate and Advanced levels of the STOTT PILATES® Matwork repertoire. Join now and receive a 14-day free trial.

Read the full transcript of the video below:

Hi, I'm PJ O’Clair, Master Instructor Trainer with Merrithew. I am celebrating Merrithew March Matness featuring STOTT PILATES exercises in the STOTT PILATES order. Today, we're doing an intermediate version: the Half Roll Back and the Roll Up.

The only prop that you'll need is your mat and your maple pole. Or you could use a towel or something that can keep your arms following nicely together.

So, start by sitting upright on your mat, nice and vertical with your pelvis. Have your legs either together or slightly apart. Bring your arms up in front of you and then flex your spine up and over. And that helps you prepare. And then as you exhale, articulate your pelvis away from your femurs and then in, to go up and over again.

This pelvic rocking action is really working to strengthen your core, but also to get that pelvic-femoral rhythm. Go up and over, exhale, rock your pelvis back. We’re going to do that four more times. Inhale, up and over. Exhale, rock back. Inhale, up and over. Exhale, rock the pelvis back. Feel that symmetry on both sides. Exhale, rock back. And one more time, inhale, exhale and rock the pelvis back.

Now, just pick up your pole or towel or something that you could hold your arms up in front of you. And from here, we'll roll the pelvis all the way back and then bring those arms overhead. You can bring your legs out long. If you have tension in your lower back, feel free to keep your legs in that bent position.

Inhale, float the arms forward. Exhale, peel the spine up and off the mat all the way to come up and over. Inhale, start to roll back. Exhale, push out to your heels. Articulate your spine all the way back down and bring the arms overhead. Inhale, leading with the arms. Exhale, flexing deep up and over. Feel that scooped position at the top. Inhale, start to roll back and really feel that symmetry on both sides as you roll your spine back down and bring those arms overhead.

Inhale, float those arms forward. Exhale, peel your spine up and off the mat, reaching long with those arms. Inhale, start to roll back. Exhale, roll sequentially down. And bring those arms overhead two more times, please. Inhale, exhale, roll your spine up and over. Inhale, start to roll back. Exhale, roll and articulate, thinking about that symmetry all the way down.

One more time: inhale, bring the arms forward. Exhale, flex up and over. Inhale, start to roll back. Exhale slowly and controlled all the way back down to the mat.

And that is our sequence today or March Matness. Thank you for joining.

Super-cushy, lightweight and made of closed-cell foam construction, Merrithew Pilates mats will protect your spine from hard surfaces, while keeping you comfortable as you exercise. Click here to find the mat that suits you best.

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