There is probably no piece of Pilates equipment more famous than the Pilates reformer. And don't take our word for it, you must try it!
The reformer makes a dramatic, often terrifying impression when you first see one, and an even more dramatic change in the body when you use it. Reformers are lined up in Pilates studios all over the world. And we hear from many of our clients that portable reformers continue to grow as a home exercise equipment trend. So why do we love the reformer so much?
First, let's get an idea of what a reformer is and how it works, then we'll look at the benefits a reformer might have for your body.
What Is The Reformer?
Invented by Joseph Pilates, the reformer is a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called the carriage, which slides back and forth on wheels within the frame. The carriage is attached to one end of the reformer by a set of springs. The springs, which can be of different colours, provide choices of differing levels of resistance as the carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame. The carriage has shoulder rests on it that keep a practitioner from sliding off the end of the reformer as they push or pull the carriage.
At the spring end of the reformer there is an adjustable bar called a footbar. The footbar can be used by the feet or hands as a practitioner moves the carriage. The reformer also has long straps with handles on them that are attached to the top end of the frame. They can be pulled with legs or arms to move the carriage as well. Body weight and resistance of the springs are what make the carriage more or less difficult to move.
How Is a Reformer Used?
One of the best things about the reformer is its versatility. Exercises can be done lying down! Yes that's right! Lying down!!!... sitting, standing, pulling the straps, pushing the footbar, perched on the footbar, perched on the shoulder blocks, with additional equipment, upside down, sideways and all kinds of variations thereof. In other words, the reformer can train many parts and dynamics of the body in so many different ways with just one relatively sleek piece of equipment.
All kinds of exercises are done on the reformer to promote length, strength, flexibility, and balance. Most Pilates reformer exercises have to do with pushing or pulling the carriage, or holding the carriage steady during an exercise as it is pulled on by the springs.
What Are the Benefits of Pilates Reformer Exercises?
The reformer offers all the famous benefits of Pilates including strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. These things in turn lead to daily life improvements like better posture, graceful, efficient movement, and for many, relief from pain associated with physical imbalances such as back pain. When we talk about strength building and Pilates the Pilates powerhouse muscles, the muscles of the core, are paramount. Flat abs, strong backs, toned buttock and thighs are all results of this emphasis. Other equipment and Pilates mat exercises do that too, but the reformer creates a unique and varied exercise environment.
The reformer accommodates full-range motion which is wonderful for increasing flexibility while building strength. It most certainly promotes the length we want to create in the body. And it trains the body to sustain that length. Pushing and pulling with legs or arms against the resistance of the springs, carriage, and body weight is generally strength building. The exercises provide enough resistance and movement variety to help build strong bones. However the most amazing feature of the reformer is that it develops eccentric muscle contractions. This occurs when a muscle lengthens as it resists a force and it is key to achieving the long, strong muscles without bulk that Pilates is known for.
The instability of the sliding carriage with the springs set at different levels of resistance provides all kinds of stability challenges that develop core strength and promote better balance. When the springs are set on a lighter setting some exercises are more challenging for the core because it has to work harder to control and stabilize the movement. The stronger core, the better the balance, posture, and overall well-being.
Exercising with the reformer is possible for anyone, at any level of fitness.
The Klinik & Pilates K offers the first session free, so that you can experience the fabulousity of this machine!
Check our website www.theklinik.co.uk