Joseph Pilates, who created his exercise method in early 20th-century Germany, once said that he was 50 years ahead of his time. He was off by a few decades. Pilates became an international exercise trend in the 1990s. Unlike other exercise programs, Pilates was not a fly-by-night craze. The technique has withstood the test of time. Some instructors, such as Moira Stott of Toronto, adhere to the basic principles, but have modernized the technique to place it in accordance with modern theories regarding postural alignment and movement dynamics. Stott and her husband, Lindsay Merrithew, also manufacture Pilates machines, such as the reformer.
Moira Stott was a principal dancer with the City of Toronto Ballet. After incurring an injury, she studied Pilates with Romana Kryzanowska, one of Joseph Pilates' original proteges. When she returned to Toronto, Stott consulted physical therapists and sports medicine experts, who helped her modernize the technique. At the time, it was not possible to buy a reformer in Toronto, so her husband built one for her. This began a successful equipment manufacturing business.
The original reformers had a wooden frame. They were attractive, but they could not be adjusted to the student's height, torso and leg length. Stott and Merrithew constructed reformers with adjustable steel frames, which accommodate students of all shapes and sizes.
Stott studio reformers have a few significant feature differences. The Stott Pilates reformer carriage, which is the gliding platform, has six carriage stops instead of the usual four. Carriage stops control the platforms range of motion. Having more stops makes these reformers suitable for people of different heights. The Stott reformers can be ordered with an additional 6 inches of length, to accommodate people taller than 6 feet 4 inches.
In addition to the studio reformer, the Stott company designs rehab reformers, reformer/Cadillac combos and home reformers. The rehab reformers are higher off the ground, providing easy mounting and dismounting for people with knee injuries or blood pressure problems. The Pilates reformer/Cadillac combo, called the V2 Max Plus, has a vertical, steel, rectangular frame attached to it. Spring-controlled resistance bars and pulleys hang from the top of the frame, enabling the participant to perform traditional reformer and Cadillac exercises. The Stott Pilates home reformer, called the At Home SPX, has wheels, which enable the machine to be rolled into a different room. These reformers are 22 inches wide and 97 inches long. They weigh 100 lbs. The carriage is 9 inches from the floor.
Pros and Cons
Stott Pilates reformers enhance overall strength, core muscle engagement and flexibility. All Stott Pilates reformers come with a limited lifetime warranty on repairs due to the original equipment workmanship, a two-year warranty on repairs occurring within two years of the original invoice date and a 90-day fabric warranty. Mikael Salazar, the California Pilates equipment repairman known as the "Pilates Guy" recommends Stott as one of the best reformer manufacturers. Still choosing a reformer is a matter of personal preference. Some users of the Stott home reformers claim that the Stott home model is noisier than the Allegro, a similar product designed by Balanced Body. Studio owners are of mixed minds about Stott reformers. Those trained in classical Pilates methods claim that the high-tech wheels on the Stott equipment provide easy carriage gliding, which makes it too easy to use momentum to perform the movements. The Gratz reformers, based on the original design, is more challenging. Gratz reformers only use full-tension springs, whereas Stott reformers have light and heavy springs,
In 2010, studio reformers ranged from $3,795 to $6,195, and reformer packages ranged from $2,595 to $3,995.
Stott is a quality company, which provides extensive customer education and support. The company is also a certifying organization, which gives instructor training workshops in all parts of the globe. Your final decision depends on your own comfort and fitness level if you are buying a Stott reformer for yourself, and your student's fitness level if buying equipment for a Pilates studio. Novice Pilates students will find the Stott equipment to be more user-friendly than other types of Pilates equipment. Here's an insider's tip: Fitness conventions, which take place throughout North America, have exhibit halls, where manufacturers allow visitors to demo their machines. Find an expo near your hometown, and compare different reformer models. Most conventions will offer a free or a cheap expo ticket to nonattendees, and most companies will offer you a cheap price if you purchase their floor models and arrange for your own shipping.