Reformer Pilates The Classics.. What is it? How can it benefit me?
Reformer Pilates is similar yet very different to mat based Pilates. Reformer Pilates is done using the Pilates reformer machine and is generally more intense and more dynamic than mat based Pilates as it adds resistance to the Pilates exercises via the use of the springs which form part of the machine.
Reformer Pilates is superior to mat based Pilates as the repertoire of exercises available is greatly increased providing far more variety.
The exercises usually work muscles through a large range of motion which is ideal for building and toning muscles as well increasing stability through the joints. Reformer Pilates works more areas than matwork as matwork is mostly core whereas reformer works the entire body and more the peripheral muscles of the arms and legs.
Reformer Pilates was originally used to break down the flowing movements of the matwork to strengthen an individual and get them to a level to which they can do the matwork effectively but it has many more athletic and toning benefits than just this.
Reformer Pilates can be used as a sport specific cross training tool. Reformer Pilates works on core stabilisation which is vital to any athlete as well as muscle endurance, lactate tolerance, peripheral joint stability, muscle strength, balance, co-ordination and much more.
Reformer Pilates is great for rehab purposes too as it allows the client to exercise in a horizontal plane of motion and not be vertically loaded and weight bearing through their legs.
For example if a client has had knee surgery or a knee injury, this horizontal plane enables you to strengthen the muscles of the leg through a larger range of motion using a lighter resistance than their body weight, speeding up their recovery through controlled movement.
The Pilates reformer is a traditional piece of Pilates equipment which looks like a bed with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys. The origins of the Pilates reformer date back to the original Pilates studio in New York in the 1920’s and was designed by Joseph Pilates himself.
Many people are quite scared of the reformer when they first see it as it looks quite intimidating and almost medieval. Put any fears you may have aside because after just one or two workouts on a reformer and you realise that it is the most versatile and effective piece of exercise equipment ever made…plus it’s great fun!
The springs that provide much of the resistance from the reformer are generally quite strong. Most reformers have up to 5 springs and when combined can add up to a considerable resistance. Conversely, as there are five springs, using only one or two of them can provide a gentler resistance depending on the exercise and the muscle being worked.
This means that the intensity can be varied considerably from one person to the next, making it an incredibly versatile piece of equipment to use as a workout or rehab tool.
Some reformers are made with a wooden frame and others are made with a steel frame. Some sit on the floor while others are raised. Depending on the brand of reformer, the style changes slightly.
Reformer Pilates can help improve and maintain overall physical fitness – leading to greater strength, flexibility and balance, which in turn improve posture, movement and mental health. Reformer Pilates should form a key component to any person wanting to improve their overall fitness.
5 of the benefits of Reformer Pilates for fitness are as follows:
1.Full body workout
Using a Reformer to perform specific, individualised movements will give you a balanced, full body workout. The subtly of the springs on a Reformer, globally strengthens the whole body to not just target the large muscle movers, but also activate the smaller stabilisers. Where there is uneven weakness, you are also able to work unilaterally to focus in and correct imbalances.
2. Builds strength and tones muscles
Reformer pilates allows you to move through full range while working on strengthening muscles. This dynamic form of exercise, cleverly uses the machine’s springs and levers to create resistance and allow for equal focus on the concentric and eccentric contractions to create long, lean, toned muscles. It not only targets major muscle groups, but also the small stabilising muscles are called to action when working on a reformer machine.
3. Low impact (but high intensity)
Reformer Pilates is ideal, under professional guidance, for anyone suffering and recovering from an injury. The springs and ropes are specifically designed to enable you to work in the horizontal plane rather than weight bearing, reducing the load through your body. The low impact allows for repetitive movements to occur which in turn tones and strengthens the injured areas to speed recovery.
4. Improves core and posture
Many of the exercises performed on a Reformer machine target the core whilst working the peripheral postural muscles at the same time. A stronger core is essential for ideal posture.
5. Improves mental health
Since its creation, a lot of information focuses on the benefits of Reformer Pilates on increasing muscle strength, toning, improving flexibility and posture. Research continues to emerge on the positive impacts that Reformer Pilates has on Mental Health. From using the steadiness of your breath to find mindfulness in movement to stress management and relaxation. As a form of exercise, Reformer Pilates can reduce stress hormones like cortisol and increase endorphins, your body’s feel-good chemicals, giving you a natural mood boost. A Reformer program can be designed specially with these benefits in mind.