Equipment/Mat Pilates

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a form of exercise, developed by Joseph Pilates, which emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength, stability, flexibility, and awareness in order to support efficient, graceful movement.
The Stott Pilates method was developed in the 1980s and is continually refined by Moira Merrithew and Lindsay G. Merrithew. They have spent more than two decades refining the Stott Pilates method, in collaboration with physical therapists, sports medicine and fitness professionals, to ensure it is aligned with current scientific and biomechanical research.


The Stott Pilates method has exercises designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints. The method focuses on the following five basic principles:

  • Breathing
  • Pelvic placement
  • Rib cage placement
  • Scapular movement
  • Head and cervical spine placement
  • Concentration and control

Core strength is the foundation of Pilates exercise. The core muscles are the deep, internal muscles of the abdomen and back. When the core muscles are strong and doing their job, as they are trained to do in Pilates, they work in tandem with the more superficial muscles of the trunk to support the spine and movement.

Intelligent exercise, profound results — Stott Pilates in Victoria BC at the Shelbourne Physiotherapy Studio

Pilates Equipment

Pilates exercises can be done on the floor using a mat or on specialized equipment. The main piece of equipment used in Pilates exercise is the reformer, which has a horizontal carriage that glides forward and backward on rollers. Resistance is provided using springs along with other attachments for a variety of exercises and positions (that is, lying down, seated and standing.) The reformer is an extremely effective tool for rehabilitation as it allows for specific muscle isolation without strain or pressure on the joints.

The mat exercises may also include props such as the stability chair, stability ball, mini stability ball, toning balls, flex band, fitness circles, foam rollers, etc.

Benefits of Pilates

  • Improves postural problems
  • Longer, leaner muscles (less bulk, more freedom of movement)
  • Increases core strength, stability and peripheral mobility
  • Helps prevent injury
  • Enhances functional fitness, ease of movement
  • Balances strength and flexibility
  • Heightens body awareness
  • No-impact, easy on the joints
  • Can be customized to suit everyone from rehabilitation patients to elite athletes
  • Complements other methods of exercise
  • Improves performance in sports (golf, skiing, skating, etc)
  • Improves balance, coordination, and circulation

History of Pilates

Joseph H. Pilates was born in Germany in 1880; he died in New York in 1967. He developed a fitness regime bearing his name, and successfully used it to overcome his disabilities as a frail and sickly child. Pilates devised a series of controlled movements that engage the mind and body in developing strong, flexible muscles, without building bulk. Emphasis was placed on developing deep torso strength and flexibility ¬ known as “centering” ¬ to ensure proper posture and reduced risk of injury. The lithe musculature and ease of movement possessed by a cat was an image he used to illustrate the technique’s objectives. The Pilates method places a lot of emphasis on correct posture and technique, and doesn’t rely upon high numbers of repetitive exercises.

The Pilates method of exercise has been very popular with dancers since the 1940s but it is now becoming much better known. Today his followers include dancers, athletes, physiotherapists, fitness trainers, health care providers and other professionals who appreciate the significant role exercise plays in restoring and maintaining good health.
The STOTT PILATES system was developed by Moira Merrithew, with input from fitness and health specialists, using her extensive understanding of the teachings of Pilates and incorporating contemporary knowledge about the body and how it functions.
As adapted by Ms. Stott, the system of exercise involves more initial pelvic and shoulder girdle stabilization exercises than were present in the original method. As well, the anatomically-based concepts of “neutral” spine and pelvis are incorporated to help restore the natural curves of the spine ¬ a departure from the original technique and other forms of fitness that incorporate a “pelvic tilt” to flatten the back.

One of the safest and most effective exercise programs available, STOTT CONDITIONING comprises hundreds of exercises, which allow workouts to be customized to meet participants’ individual needs. The neuro-muscular technique tones and lengthens muscles, increases abdominal and back strength, improves posture and body mechanics, reduces joint and lower back stress, balances flexibility with strength, and reduces stress and tension. The smooth, almost dance-like motions and an emphasis on proper breathing leave participants feeling refreshed rather than exhausted.
Technique is extremely important and even experienced users of the method require a trainer to assist them through their workout.