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What Is the Difference Between Pilates & Stott Pilates?

author image Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.
What Is the Difference Between Pilates & Stott Pilates?
A woman is training in a studio. Photo Credit aerogondo/iStock/Getty Images

The Pilates method of exercise was developed in Germany in the early 20th century. There has been almost 100 years of research since the original technique was created, but Pilates purists believe that it should still be taught without variation or modification. Others, such as Moira Stott disagree. Stott, as well as other proponents of a modernized version of Pilates still adhere to the basic principles of the method. These include breathing, concentration and fluidity of movement. The sequencing of exercises, the postural alignment, and the addition of props are the major differences between the two methods.

Moira Stott History

Moira Stott was a principle ballerina with the City Ballet of Toronto. A neck injury prompted her to study Pilates with Romana Kryzanowska, who was one of the original disciples of Joseph Pilates. Stott went on to study with physical therapists and sports medicine experts. She soon discovered that the original Pilates method, while highly effective, did not conform to the modern principles of postural alignment and exercise sequencing. As such, she developed a modernized version of the technique. Her Toronto studio opened in 1988.

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Features of the Stott Technique

The neutral spine is the primary difference between Stott and traditional Pilates. The original method used an imprinted spine in all of the exercise positions. Imprinted means that the back is in a flat position. It was once believed that this position should be used to correct a sway back or arched back position, but physical therapists now realize that walking around in a constant flat back or pelvic tilt creates just as much spinal friction as an arched back. Neutral spine is the small, natural curvature of the lower part of the spine. In Stott, this alignment is used as long as one foot is on the floor. When both legs are in the air, the imprinted position is used.


Many people misinterpret the Stott technique and accuse instructors of advising their students to arch their back during the various exercises. The neutral spine, however, does not qualify as an arched position.

Benefits of Stott Technique

The traditional Pilates method begins with the hundred exercise. Participants lie on their backs with their legs in the air. The head and shoulders are lifted from the floor, and the arms pump up and down for 100 counts. Those who are not in shape may find that performing this exercise without a warm-up causes undue stress and strain on the neck and lower back. The Stott technique uses a pre-Pilates warm-up, which aligns the body and releases neck and back pressure. The Stott technique also uses the stability ball, the foam roller and the bosu, which is a half ball for some of the exercises. Pilates traditionalists are opposed to using these fitness tools.


Both the Stott and traditional Pilates method have strict qualifications for instructors. Both methods require candidates to apprentice with a certified instructor from their respective methods. For awhile, there were only a limited number of traditional instructors in North America. Candidates had to travel to New York City to complete their certification. In the meantime, Stott forged an affiliation with IDEA and other fitness professionals. Potential certification candidates were able to learn about the technique and bring the method to all parts of the globe. As such, Stott is at least partially responsible for the growing popularity of the Pilates method.

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