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  • Writer's pictureSteph Hammond


Updated: Apr 16

Most people have heard of mat based Pilates. It’s a popular low-impact workout with classes often being found in gyms, boutique studios and community halls across the world.

The Reformer is a piece of apparatus invented by Joseph Pilates (the man behind the Pilates method). The early guises of the apparatus were designed during his internship on the Isle of Man in World War I. He attached leg springs to the hospital beds to assist patients who were bed bound and unable to walk with their rehab. Joe later went on to create other pieces of apparatus (Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Ladder Barrel etc.), it was on these that he taught dancers and helped them strengthen as well as prevent and recover from injury. Reformer Pilates is similar, yet very different to mat-based Pilates. It’s is typically more dynamic than mat Pilates due to the added resistance you get from the springs and pulleys, which form part of the machine along with a moving carriage. It’s really is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment and can be used seated, laying down (both on front and back or side), standing or kneeling. The apparatus is still used for rehab but also used as was intended, to help a client strengthen and lengthen, to get them to a level where they can do the mat work well (actually the mat would have been your homework back in the day). Today the reformer has many more rehab, athletic and strengthening benefits than just this and is widely used by not just healthcare professionals but also many athletes and sporting teams.

WHAT DOES A REFORMER LOOK LIKE? A Pilates Reformer looks like a bed with springs, a carriage on wheels, ropes and pulleys with handles and straps attached.

A lot of people can feel intimidated by the Reformer when they first see it, it looks quite big and medieval (think Christian Gray!). But whilst the machines might look like they belong in a torture chamber, using them does amazing things to your body. Most reformers have up to 5 springs (classical machines have 4) and when combined with bodyweight, can add up to a considerable amount of resistance to work with. This means that the intensity can be varied from person to person, making it an incredibly versatile piece of equipment, not just to use as a resistance/strength workout, but also as a rehab tool too. You can see one of the early reformers in this video where Joseph is teaching dancer and Pilates elder, Eve Gentry.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF REFORMER PILATES? Like mat based pilates, Reformer workouts work the whole body to build strength (particularly around the core, back, butt and thighs), improve flexibility and balance. Combined, these things can lead to daily life improvements like better posture, more efficient movement, greater joint stability, reduced risk of injury and for many, relief from pain such as low back pain. It’s an incredibly supportive form of exercise, making it a great tool for rehab. We can’t forget that there are mental health benefits too, due to the breathing, concentration and mindfulness during movements. Like with mat based Pilates, Reformer Pilates also reduces stress hormones like cortisol and increase endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) giving you a natural pick me up after each session. WHO IS REFORMER PILATES FOR? Everyone and anyone, all ages, all abilities…no matter what your goal! WHAT ELSE? Well combine the Reformer with the CardioTramp or Tower or another piece of apparatus like the Stability or Wunda Chair (coming to my studio in early 2022)….then you can bring in even more options to your workout, cardiovascular, strengthening, flexibility and even more rehab opportunities… ….PLUS it’s all GREAT FUN! WHAT DOES A REFORMER WORKOUT LOOK LIKE?

Well….like this….only not as fast lol…

Intrigued….want to give it a go? Drop me a note

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