Reformer Pilates is one of the most popular pieces of pilates studio equipment. It was created in the 1920's by Joseph Pilates and remains fundamentally unchanged in terms of design and function. Created as a means to help bed ridden hospital patients to exercise, Joseph Pilates refined his original ideas of movement and exercise by rigging springs to hospital beds to allow patients to gain fitness and strength. During 1918 an influenza epidemic struck England killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joseph's trainees died. This he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system and this, to me is such a wonderful way to solidify the effectiveness of keeping the body mobile and healthy.
The reformer itself is an extremely versatile, resistance based machine that consists of several springs varying in strength, ropes and straps all connected to a gliding carriage. Some have likened it to something out of 50 shades of Grey, but I can assure you we stick with Joseph Pilates over Christian Grey! Whether you're a beginner, in need of rehabilitation, greater mobility or improved core strength; or someone who wants to take their pilates practice to the next level then reformer pilates is an excellent session.
Benefits of Reformer Pilates
- Great for rehab as it allows the body to work in a single plane of motion without being vertically loaded. This is great for people who struggle to exercise due to back problems
- It allows for a greater range of movement and resistance making pilates dynamic with an added benefit of flow. It takes Mat Pilates to the next level
- The reformer springs can change to vary resistance and increase or decrease the demand on the deep stabilising muscles i.e. the core to really isolate this area and develop greater strength
- The movement allows for improvement in mobility and flexibility for a lengthened feeling and greater posture
A Typical Session
A typical session will be different for each person, as the session is designed based on your goals, ability, flexibility, strength and injury restrictions. However, most sessions do follow a format to ensure you receive a whole body workout (unless of course we are specialising on one aspect). We generally always start with footwork as it mentally prepares you for the workout ahead and allows you to start focussing on 'turning on' your deep stabilising muscles, feeling your pelvis in imprint or neutral and mastering your breathing. We then move into an element of mobility, which may include arm circles, leg circles or scissors. This is where you now start to deepen your focus to maintain all of the above: engaged abdominal, imprinted or neutral pelvis and correct breathing whilst moving through a greater range of movement. Next we start to work on strength and can include shoulder work, abdominal work, back extension work and even plyometric work to get the heart rate up and work those large leg muscles. In keeping with the pilates principles, all strength work is performed in a controlled manner and often less is more when it comes to the reformer. After strength we will move onto more mobility work and then stretching. The Short Spine, Eves Lunge and Standing Splits are some of my favourite and can help to leave you feeling lengthened and more mobile when you leave.