The Pilates Reformer is a piece of Pilates equipment that has been around since Joseph Pilates used it as part of his original Pilates technique to help rehabilitate bed-bound patients in the First World War.
The Reformer itself is a frame that consists of a carriage which slides up and down on rails, this is attached by different coloured springs to the frame, each colour has a different tension. These provide resistance as the carriage moves.
The springs attach under the platform and are adjustable as required. In various standing exercises, always making sure you stand on the platform before the carriage.
In front of the platform is the foot bar, which is adjustable as required.
The top end of the carriage has shoulders pads and posts which act as support, the loops, one small and one large are stored over the posts, these are used for arm and leg work. Pulling on these loops moves the carriage.
The combination of adjustable springs and a sliding carriage can create resistance, instability or both making exercises easier or harder, something you don’t get with mat Pilates.
The versatility of the Reformer allows it to challenge even the most experience Pilates practitioner. Simply you can do so much more on the Reformer than the mat.
The benefits are that it is an inclusive workout routine regardless of your fitness levels. As in Pilates, it improves strength, particularly core, back, glutes and thighs; flexibility and balance but also focus, coordination and posture.
What it does do, is strengthen your muscles through ‘eccentric muscle contractions’, which is the name given to the motion of an active muscle lengthening as it resists a force or load. Eccentric training, which Reformer Pilates comes under, involves doing this repeatedly
As well as lowered blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health, it’s particularly popular for those suffering lower back pain as it focuses on stabilising the muscles around the spine.
A Reformer class is also mindful as it needs to be done with breathwork and control of movement.