STOTT PILATES® Five Basic Principles
By Moira Merrithew, STOTT PILATES® Executive Director, Education
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 involve the following biomechanical principles: breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement and stabilization, and head and cervical placement. By introducing these principles and reinforcing them over time, awareness of how the body moves is developed. This mind-body awareness ensures focus on precision and control to realize the full benefits of any exercise program. The Five Basic Principles that follow are accompanied by simple exercises to help illustrate them.
STOTT PILATES® FAQs
What is Pilates?
Pilates, pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates, is a mind-body exercise system designed to strengthen the weak and challenge the strong. Pilates (1880-1967) was a German expatriate who first made his mark in England during WWI when he developed 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 techniques helped prevent injury and improve strength while maintaining long, even muscle tone. This sparked a vast following of the method of exercise.
Why is Pilates the fastest-growing method of exercise?
People are becoming increasingly more interested in fitness modalities that help relieve stress. They’re also much more interested in prevention and taking care of their bodies. They want to stay fit and look good for as long as possible. Pilates is complementary to many traditional ways of working out. It’s excellent for all ages, fitness levels and goals. Its mind-body aspect is even said to be useful in preventing stress-related illnesses like heart disease.
What is the STOTT PILATES® Method?
STOTT PILATES® is a contemporary approach to the original exercise method pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates. Co-founders Moira and Lindsay G. Merrithew, along with a team of physical therapists, sports medicine and fitness professionals, have spent more than two decades refining the STOTT PILATES® method of exercise and equipment. This resulted in the inclusion of modern principles of exercise science 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. It’s used by rehab and prenatal clients, athletes, celebrities and everyone in between.
STOTT PILATES® exercises help both men and women 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® exercises help you tone your body, feel revitalized, and move with ease.
Can anyone do Pilates?
No form of exercise is appropriate for everyone, but STOTT PILATES® exercise is appropriate for most people. As with any exercise method, you should always consult with a medical expert before beginning an exercise regime. A modified program may be recommended if you have any physical limitations. Everyone from serious fitness enthusiasts, to rehab patients, elite athletes, and prenatal clients will see a difference.
What is the difference between STOTT PILATES® and other Pilates techniques?
STOTT PILATES® incorporates modern exercise principles, including contemporary thinking about spinal rehabilitation 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, there is also more emphasis on scapular stabilization. As well, there are more preparatory exercises and modifications to cater to many different body types and abilities, making it applicable to everyday life.
What are STOTT PILATES®’ benefits?
- Builds core strength and stability
- Improves posture and alignment
- Increases flexibility, balance and coordination
- Improves muscular balance and strength
- Increases endurance and muscular tone
- Prevents injury and heightens body awareness
- Enhances athletic performance
- Relieves stress and back pain
How does STOTT PILATES® differ from weight training?
- Pilates is three-dimensional (i.e. exercises can be performed using all movement planes)
- Spring resistance more closely resembles muscular contraction
- Emphasis on concentric and eccentric contraction for injury prevention, STOTT PILATES® exercise is customizable for special needs
- In Pilates exercise, emphasis is placed on rebalancing muscles around the joints
- Pilates corrects over-training and muscle imbalances that lead to injury
- Pilates emphasizes balancing strength with flexibility (for injury prevention and more efficient movement)
- 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
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 no sudden jarring actions. It is more important, however, that you work with a qualified instructor to ensure that you are doing the movements correctly. An experienced instructor will be able to modify the exercises to accommodate your limitations, continually challenge you within your ability, and monitor your improvements. If you commit yourself to a consistent workout schedule you will certainly feel results.
Should Pilates replace my regular workout?
STOTT PILATES® exercise is a musculo-skeletal conditioning program. It’s ideal in combination with some kind of cardiovascular exercise
(walking, running, aerobics, aqua fitness etc.), and a great complement to your weight training program or athletic training.
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, long 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 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 component, such as STOTT PILATES® exercise, and following a balanced diet. Combining Pilates with aerobic exercise also offers additional benefits: greater mind-body connection, improved posture, flexibility and functionality.
Why do celebrities do Pilates?
Many celebrities choose Pilates because not only does it improve their physical appearance, it also helps with their stamina, stress relief, and focus. Pilates is invigorating and helps people feel destressed. For celebrities, on whom the outer world places a spotlight, Pilates allows them to “get away from it all” by internalizing and connecting the mind to the body. Celebrities known to do Pilates include: Cheryl Tiegs, Sandra Bullock, Ellen DeGeneres, Rod Stewart, Sting, Martha Stewart, Rob Morrow, Victor Garber, Sofia Coppola, Veronica Tennant, Jennifer Aniston, and Tiger Woods.
Is it true athletes do Pilates?
Despite its slow, careful movements, Pilates is not for wimps! Pro athletes like NHL player Eddie Belfour, NBA star Kobe Bryant, and Tennis pro Martina Navratilova benefit from using STOTT PILATES® equipment and instruction. The STOTT PILATES® method places importance on core stability and rebalancing the muscles making them work more efficiently. This helps prevent injury and improves athletic ability.
Can I practice Pilates at home?
For a long time, Pilates was taught one-on-one, almost exclusively. Today the options are greater: you can work with a personal trainer, attend group classes or even work out at home with the newest DVDs. STOTT PILATES® has the world’s largest library of Pilates DVDs with more than 120 award-winning titles. The collection offers workout options for every skill level and ability, from beginners to instructors. Find our complete line of DVDs at www.merrithew.com.
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STOTT PILATES®, a subsidiary of Merrithew Corporation, is the only full-service organization of its kind providing Pilates education, equipment and media worldwide.
STOTT PILATES® is your source for everything Pilates.
For more information visit www.merrithew.com, call toll-free 1-800-910-0001, UK 0800-328-5676.