What is the Reformer? The reformer is a piece of equipment specifically designed for Pilates, where a variety of exercises can be performed. You can be lying down, sitting, kneeling, standing, on your hands and knees just to mention a few.
The reformer is made up of a moving carriage that can be pushed or pulled. There are 5 adjustable springs with varied tension that can be attached or removed for the purpose of the exercise. Adjustable straps where your arms and legs can either move the carriage or keep it still. Some reformers have additional props and towers that offer more attachable springs and bars that add even more variety to programs.
The same Pilates principles apply on the reformer as they do on the mat. An opportunity to work on your breathing (so important!), to strengthen deep abdominal muscles that aid in supporting the spine. Improve posture, muscle imbalances, and work on flexibility, mindfulness, balance and control. The reformer challenges your stability and truly fires up your smaller more neglected muscles. You’ll feel muscles that you never knew you had. It’s great for creating overall balance between in the body and across other types of training, especially if you tend to focus on high impact and HIIT style workouts. Depending on the desired outcome, the reformer can assist or challenge strength, flexibility, stability, co-ordination and control.
The great thing about the reformer is that it is suitable for anybody. It can cater for all shapes and sizes, ages and all levels of experience from beginner, intermediate, advanced as well as injured clients but should always be under the supervision of a qualified Pilates instructor.
Over time, when we exercise, we can develop muscular imbalances through the body, especially if we only do one sport or particular type of exercise repetitively. We tend to overuse the same muscles and under utilise others. Have a think about the exercise you current participate in… Do you move in forward and backward motions only? Or do you also twist, move side to side, up and down? Do you warm up the spine?
Pilates challenges you to work on continuous movement. It challenges you to stabilise the spine and pelvis and control the movement through each phase of the movement, therefore you are continuously working. However, don’t mistake lower intensity as easy. Pilates is very humbling, it will highlight where you tend to compensate but also offers you an opportunity to work on them. What you will learn through Pilates you will be able to transfer to other areas of your regular training and life.
Those with hip and back injuries/pain, sciatica, lower and upper limb injuries can work on their rehabilitation, build up strength and movement awareness in a safe and controlled manner. The range of motion through joints can be progressed without compensating with other muscles, helping to correct imbalances and reducing pain overtime. Working on flexibility and mobility can be easier, and more enjoyable, with the support of the footbar and the moving carriage. The carriage is a foot off the ground which can be helpful getting into a more comfortable position without stressing the joints. So if you have poor hip and hamstring flexibility, the reformer is a great way to work on improving it.
Overall, the reformer really is amazing with an abundance of benefits and once you try it, you’ll wonder why you never tried it sooner!
Instead of being scared or curious of that “weird piece of equipment” why not book in to see how it can help you with your wellness or fitness goals?
About the author
Dipti is a Sports Therapist and Pilates Instructor who graduated from university with a BSc (Hons) in Sports Therapy. She is also an APPI trained Mat instructor. As well as clinical practice, she has also worked alongside professional and amateur teams in football, field hockey, rugby, tennis and athletics in London and Singapore.