Reformer Pilates classes combine movement, strength and flexibility to tone, improve posture and increase balance and coordination. It’s ideal, under professional guidance, for anyone suffering from injuries or recovering from surgery as the reformer allows you to exercise in a horizontal plane instead of weight bearing, speeding up rehabilitation by strengthening the injured area with controlled movement.
Reformers are equipped with spring-resistance technology, enabling instructors to tailor exercises to different levels of strength and ability. The equipment consists of a moving carriage, which can be supported or held steady by the footbar and anchored springs that offer various levels of resistance. Using the footbar, springs and longer straps to adjust tension, the reformer can help beginners strengthen their core by providing extra support or offer more challenge for the experienced.
The reformer can be used to strengthen the entire body, but it’s particularly effective at targeting the core muscles, and promoting a strong, long and lean physique. It’s also great for improving posture and reducing back pain by strengthening the muscles around the joints and spine, helping to reduce the strain on the joints caused by bad sitting or standing habits.
Many people don’t realise how much core strength affects our everyday movements and posture. By helping to strengthen the core and the deep intrinsic muscles of the spine, the reformer can help us stand taller, and have a better sense of alignment.
Pilates also helps to build muscle strength and endurance, which can improve performance in most sports. It can also improve balance, co-ordination and stability which is especially important in sport where the focus is on speed and agility. Reformer Pilates is also great for cross training with other forms of exercise such as running, cycling and swimming.
If you’re a beginner, it’s important to find a reputable studio and a teacher who will guide you through the basics. “Look for a certified instructor who will have the proper training and experience to help you get familiar with the machine,” says Melas. A good instructor will be able to identify areas of the body that may require more attention, and can provide modifications for the student.
It’s also a good idea to be aware of the different parts of the reformer, such as the carriage, which moves with each exercise, and the stable platform, which is usually home to shorter straps for balance and strength exercises. Some reformers are also fitted with jump boards and boxes for more dynamic exercises. Most Pilates studios don’t have a dress code and most students tend to wear light clothing, with women often opting for yoga pants and a t-shirt or tank. However, some prefer to wear more fitted or stretchy gym clothes for comfort and safety reasons. Some studios will have a range of mats and equipment for you to use, while others may require you to bring your own. It’s best to call the studio before attending to enquire about what you should bring with you.