Pilates Frequently Asked Questions
Developed by professionals for professionals, the STOTT PILATES method is an anatomically-based approach to the original exercise method. It is a progression in pilates that incorporates modern exercise science and rehabilitation principles, eliminates contraindicated movements and emphasizes neutral alignment, core stability and peripheral mobility. The STOTT PILATES repertoire consists of more than 500 systematic, mind-body exercises that can be performed on a mat or on specialized equipment pieces.
STOTT PILATES exercise is ideal for everyone from young adults and aging baby boomers, to post-rehab patients and elite athletes.
When taught effectively the STOTT PILATES method:
- Builds core strength and stability
- Improves posture and alignment
- Increases flexibility
- Improves muscular balance and strength
- Increases endurance and muscular tone
- Prevents injury
- Enhances athletic performance
- Relieves stress and back pain
- Improves balance and coordination
- Heightens body awareness
Pilates helps strengthen, build and tone muscle mass. “Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate or BMR). As muscle mass increases, BMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.” – American Council on Exercise.
Co-founder Moire Merrithew agrees that while Pilates can aid in losing weight, it’s not as easy or as fast as some would make it seem. “Commercials are effective marketing tools”, she says, “but science does not back up Pilates programs that position themselves as calorie burning systems”. The Pilates method of exercises not aerobic (cardiovascular), which, along with a sensible diet, is necessary for burning fat.
Pilates will help strengthen, build and tone muscle mass. Muscles are metabolically active tissue. “Skeletal muscles are responsible for more than 25 percent of our calorie use. An increase in muscle tissue causes a corresponding increase in our metabolic rate.” (American council on exercise personal trainer manual c 1996) the relationship also works the other way.
A strong healthy muscle will metabolize fat much more effectively than a weak, non fit muscle. Because Pilates strengthens muscles, people who practice it regularly become more effective at metabolizing calories, which had been stored as fat.
“Having suffered for many years with back problems and having visited Doctors, Hospitals and Physiotherapists it was suggested by a Physiotherapist that Pilates might help with my problem. My problem being a debilitating severe muscle spasm, which occurs when the back muscles support the lower vertebrae, which do not separate as normal. Whilst Pilates doesn’t cure the problem it has lengthened my spine, improved my posture and strengthened my back muscle so that the spasm hardly ever occurs, but more importantly the lessons and exercises learned on realigning and lengthening the back enables me to confidently react to a spasm with exercise, rather than rest and reduce recovery time from what was often weeks to a matter of days.” – Colin Leahy (Managing Director Carlton Freight).
No two women’s bodies are the same, and this is especially true during pregnancy and not for others. During a normal, healthy pregnancy, moderate exercise is safe for the foetus. Exercise is also said to prevent various veins, haemorrhoids and ease back pain-not to mention boosting self esteem. The guidelines stated by the American council on exercise are not as hard and fast as they used to be.
However, research suggests that no new exercise routine should be started during your first trimester. As ell, you should be careful of over-exerting the abdominal muscles. During the second trimester these muscles become stretched out, and some women experience diastases recti (separation of the abdominal muscles).
With reduced support for the back, you also run the risk of injuring the lower back futher, because of the increased amounts of remained progesterone release the body during pregnancy, the ligaments surrounding the joints become lax, which leaves them loose and vulnerable. For this reason, you should be careful not to overstretch. It is important, though, to continue strengthening and rebalancing muscles around the joint-still trying to centre the body as it goes through many postural changes due to pregnancy.
Today many guidelines for pregnancy indicate that once you reach the second trimester you should not exercise in a supine position (lying on your back) as your may be cutting off oxygen to the foetus even if you yourself are not feeling dizzy). In general we teach that it is better to be safe and not take any chances. In the second trimester we still do some mat work courses but we make sure that the upper torso is raised as it is when using the “spine supporter”. We then alternate the inclined position with sitting, kneeling and standing exercises done on the mat, reformer and Cadillac. A great piece of the equipment for pregnancy is the stability chair, because it facilitates so many exercises in an upright position. Of course drinking lots of water is always important, and be sure not to over-exert yourself. The beauty of this type of work is that it can be individualized for anyone’s ability.
- Pilates is three-dimensional (i.e. exercise can be performed using all movement planes) spring resistance more closely resembles muscular contraction
- Emphasis on concentric/eccentric contraction for injury prevention
- STOTT PILATES is customizable for special needs
- In Pilates exercise, emphasis is placed on rebalancing muscles around the joint
- Pilates corrects over-training and muscle imbalance that leads to injury
- Pilates emphasizes balancing strength and flexibility (for injury prevention and more efficient movement)
- STOTT PILATES leads to improvement in posture and body awareness.
Pilates is complementary to many ways of working out. It’s excellent for an aging population. Its mind-body aspect is even said to be useful in preventing stress-related illnesses, like heart disease.
Karen Kain, former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, was one of STOTT PILATES co-founder Moira Merrithew’s first clients. “Within the first week I could see a difference,” says Ms. Kain, “not only in my strength and flexibility, but in how much better my back felt.”
Sharon Stone credits pilates with her return to health. Working out on a STOTT PILATES reformer while filming in Ontario, she described pilates as “a centered, healthful, strengthening and balanced workout.”