These questions on Pilates have been compiled from the STOTT PILATES website. If you have any other questions, please contact me at malahidepilates@gmail.com


Pilates and Pregnancy

Q. Is it safe to do Pilates during pregnancy?

A. Note: The following information should NOT be substituted for medical advice from your doctor. Please consult your physician for information on what will be appropriate for you during your pregnancy.

The available information on pregnancy and exercise can be very confusing – even conflicting. STOTT PILATES follows the current standards practiced in the fitness industry regarding safety during pregnancy and the guidelines set out by professional organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. We cover this topic in depth in our Injuries & Special Populations course as well as workshops. What follows is some general information that should not be substituted for the advice of a physician and the guidance of a qualified fitness professional.

No two women’s bodies are the same, and this is especially true during pregnancy. There are workouts that are quite appropriate for some people during pregnancy and not for others. During a normal, healthy pregnancy, moderate exercise is safe for the fetus. Exercise is also said to prevent varicose veins, hemorrhoids and low back pain and helps to boost self esteem, maintain fitness levels and prepare the body for the physical demands of motherhood.

A woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy and exercise must be adapted and modified as the pregnancy progresses. The beauty of Pilates is that it can be individualized for anyone’s ability. Workouts and schedules during the first trimester may have to be adjusted around fatigue levels. Over the course of the pregnancy the demand on the abdominal muscles should be decreased. During the second trimester, these muscles become stretched out, and some women experience diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles). With reduced abdominal support, there is a greater risk of injuring the lower back. Further, due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, the ligaments surrounding the joints become lax, leaving them loose and vulnerable. For this reason, you should be careful not to overstretch. It is important to continue strengthening and rebalancing the muscles around the joints – supporting the body as it goes through postural changes related to pregnancy.

Today many guidelines for pregnancy indicate that after approximately the 16th week of gestation, the supine position (lying on your back) should be avoided as the maternal blood supply and subsequently the fetal blood supply may be affected. In the second trimester, positioning must be adjusted and light equipment (particularly the Spine Supporter) combined with the Matwork exercises becomes very useful. As well, the possibilities offered by the Reformer, Cadillac and Stability Chair are helpful. Of course, drinking lots of water, avoiding overexertion and overheating are always important.

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Pilates in General

Q. How long will I have to do the workout before I see results?

A. The average active person doing 2-3 classes per week should see some results within 10-12 classes. This will vary depending on each individual and other factors such as the number of classes a person takes each week, whether they are private or group classes, whether they participate in other physical activities, and whether they have any existing injuries. It is also important to work with a well trained Certified Instructor.

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Q. I have a bad back. Will I be able to do Pilates?

A. 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 therefore more important 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 range and monitor your improvements. If you commit yourself to a consistent workout schedule you will certainly feel results.

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Q. Will I get the same results with a mat workout as with a Reformer or equipment workout?

A. Mat-based workouts are very convenient and can be done anywhere. Adding light equipment and the larger resistance equipment will place more emphasis on your outer limbs and add variety and intensity to your program.

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Q. If I’m doing Pilates, should I still do my regular workout?

A. 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.

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Q. Will I lose weight attending STOTT PILATES classes?

A. 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.

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Common Questions About STOTT PILATES

Q. Why does it feel too easy?

A. You’re probably not doing the exercises properly. There is a learning curve for STOTT PILATES, especially for participants who are conditioned with traditional exercise.

Often, smaller muscles can be neglected and other muscles can compensate weak areas. In Pilates we zero in on those areas and focus on bringing them into harmony and balance with the rest of the body. It may feel like you’re moving backwards, but you’re really retraining your body to engage small and large muscles in a coordinated way.  It takes time, but once your body starts to get this lesson down, you will notice the difference in every physical activity that you enjoy.

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Q. Why don’t I feel the “burn” that I get in my other fitness classes?

A. Traditional fitness classes focus on engaging the “big muscles,” which is the most efficient way to get the heart rate up. Weight lifting tends to focus on isolation and working the main muscles of the body. For the time you are in Pilates class — Let go of the “burn.” Put your mind in the muscles of your core and focus on the engagement. STOTT PILATES is a different way to exercise. The small muscles are just as important as the big ones. The muscles of the core work in a coordinated way to either stabilize or mobilize the body.  When you start reaching for the “burn” your body puts its energy into engaging the big muscles and neglecting the small ones, creating not only imbalances, but also taking the work out of the areas you are trying to target.

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Q. Why does the teacher tell me to slow down in many exercises?

A. The body has two types of muscles fibers — fast twitch and slow twitch. Fast twitch fibers respond to quick explosive movement. Slow twitch fibers respond to slower, more concentrated movement. Many muscles, especially those that extend the upper back, simply won’t respond. When you lift too fast, your body puts the work into other muscles like the chest and low back that are equipped to react quickly. This can create imbalance in your body.

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Q. Why is it so difficult to perform many of the exercises properly?

A. STOTT PILATES sometimes asks us to consciously control muscles that normally work subconsciously. With consistent participation you will improve the mind-body connection and gain a better understanding of the exercises. Also, every STOTT PILATES exercise employs a balance of strength, flexibility, control and coordination. You may be very strong, but inflexible. You may be flexible in some areas, but not others. With pilates exercise over time, these areas become more balanced.

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Q. Can a class that “feels this good” really make me stronger?

A. Yes. Pilates feels good because it realigns the spine and strengthens the muscles that keep it properly aligned. This makes the exercises safe and remarkably effective. It also trains your body in a way that keeps you feeling better during all your daily activities.

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Q. What are the principles behind the STOTT PILATES Method?

A. STOTT PILATES exercise improves core strength and balances the muscles around the joints, improving the way your body functions, looks and feels. The Five Basic Principles focus on:

  • Breathing
  • Pelvic placement
  • Rib cage placement
  • Scapular movement
  • Head & cervical spine placement

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Q. Is STOTT PILATES exercise like Yoga?

A. In some respects Pilates is like Yoga. Both are considered mind-body type 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.

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Q. What kind of results can I expect from doing STOTT PILATES?

A. You can expect an increase in strength, flexibility, mobility, balance, and body awareness, as well as a decrease in back pain or other general pains.

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Q. How can STOTT PILATES be different than weight training or other resistance exercise?

A. Pilates is three-dimensional (i.e. exercises can be performed using all movement planes) spring resistance more closely resembles muscular contraction emphasis on concentric/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 imbalance that leads 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 your fitness program and are a great compliment to each other.

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Q. What is STOTT PILATES’ company description and where is it located?

A. STOTT PILATES, a subsidiary of Merrithew Corporation, is the largest full-service Pilates organization worldwide. A leader in Pilates education, equipment and media, STOTT PILATES has trained over 17,000 instructors in 67 countries, has three Corporate Training Centers in Toronto, Denver and Tribeca, New York City, over 50 Licensed Training Centers, and numerous hosting locations around the globe. We are the producers of the world’s largest Pilates DVD library with over 120 titles in our lineup and the creators of the industry’s top Pilates equipment line. We’re continually enhancing our product and course offerings to meet the growing demand for Pilates worldwide. STOTT PILATES is pleased to be your full-service Pilates provider.

STOTT PILATES Head Office & Studio,
Merrithew Corporation:
2200 Yonge Street (at Eglinton) Suite 500
Toronto, Ontario CANADA M4S 2C6

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STOTT PILATES ® Content © Merrithew Corporation, used with permission