Canuck of the Day: Moira Merrithew

One of the many privileges of homeschooling is being able to exercise when and how you choose. Having been Dreadfully Offended by the atmosphere of ‘Physical Education’ class at school when I was growing up, I have tended ever since to give anything that looks, smells or feels remotely like a gym a wide berth. Enter the home exercise phenomenon!

Happily for all of us, there are currently plenty of high-quality home exercise videos to choose from, both online and at the local library. Of course, nothing can compare with Fresh Air and Healthy Walks, but there are many gloomy and soggy days (here in Montreal, at least) that do not lend themselves to much outdoor exertion. I have, emblazoned in my memory, one such grey and wet-snow-bedraggled winter afternoon when our daughter was about four years old . . . she just sat down in the snow, and wouldn’t budge! No amount of encouraging talk, smiling and gesturing, or cheerful attempts to form snowballs with my sodden mittens, inspired any sort of happy reaction. It became obvious that unless we were going to give in to The Sedentary Life for six months a year, we needed a new plan.

In a feat of Amazing Coincidence, our neighbour knocked on the door not long afterwards with a Stott Pilates exercise video in hand – she hadn’t enjoyed it, but had noticed me attempting to go jogging (yes, ‘attempting’) and had thought I might enjoy, well, something else(!). What a Lucky Break!

Stott Pilates is a specific ‘brand’ of Pilates developed by former ballet dancer Moira Merrithew after she sustained a neck and foot injury that prevented her from pursuing her career in dance. She studied at the original Pilates studio in New York and added her own expertise to what she learned there, to create really effective routines. In addition to all of the Extreme Dancer Body Knowledge that these exercises embody (pardon the pun), it is Moira’s friendly and focussed teaching style that will really make you excel. When I began with the ‘Secret to Flat Abs’ video, I could only make it through the warm-ups. Yep. And now, a mere 10 years later, I can complete the intermediate level ‘Firm and Fit’ without passing out, vomiting, or knocking over any furniture! It’s a Great Day. 🙂

True, it may have been a bit ambitious to have purchased the three subsequent titles in the same series (‘Firm and Fit’ is followed by ‘Core Challenge’ and . . . I forget the other one. Let’s just say it will be Quite A Long Time before I ever attempt it.) before even having mastered the first one, but the candy-like quality of the DVD covers really makes it easy to splurge ($20 for an indefinite number of years of a high quality exercise class is a good deal!) – and there are tens of titles to choose from. Routines geared toward pregnant ladies, people with back struggles, men, the already very fit, those who wish to lose a bit of weight, children (‘Stott Pilates for Kids’) and many others are available at Amazon. They all have little glitches here and there, but the quality of the exercise more than compensates for these little details.

So, as the snow begins to accumulate, and the Homeschool Doldrums threaten to set in, put some wind back in your sails (or something like that) with a cheerful Stott Pilates routine! I guarantee that this is a type of exercise that leaves you feeling happy – not ‘spent’ – and in better shape – not just sore.

Other benefits to note: someone other that Mom or Dad will be giving instructions for 40 minutes; many routines require no equipment (just use a towel for a mat); it really does have an effect on wobbly bits; the movements are elegant rather than ‘hard’; Pilates does not require standing much (a change from housework!); there is no annoying ‘pump you up’ type background music; many of the videos were filmed to a backdrop of tasteful and pleasant decor.

A big Thank You to today’s Canuck of the Day, Moira Merrithew (and her husband, producer Lindsay Merrithew) for making high quality physical conditioning available to us, the Determined To Get/Stay In Shape, with Stott Pilates!

Note: This is not an endorsement, merely a friendly recommendation. (No money or freebies were involved.)



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