Reformer Pilates is the Workout That’s Fit for All

From core strength to mindful breathing, reformer Pilates is all-inclusive.


Heatlh, Wellness

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Pilates is a genre of working out that focuses on breathing, toning muscles, and strengthening one’s core. Although Pilates exercises are traditionally practiced on floor mats, a trendy new form of Pilates is starting to gain in popularity, According to TODAY.

Reformer Pilates are Pilates exercises done on a reformer machine – a long, flat, device with cords, springs, handles, and bars. These components allow participants to change up the resistance, stabilize themselves, extend and elongate muscles, and adjust the machine to one’s size and difficulty level. 

Here are four things to know about exercising with a Pilates reformer machine.

Reformer is for everyone
The Pilates reformer machine can provide an effective and appropriate workout for all, according to Harper’s Bazaar, from pro athletes to out-of-shape beginners, and even elderly or injured people, or pregnant and post-natal women.

Equinox trainer James Shaw tells Harper’s Bazaar,“[thinking] that you need to be ‘in shape’ to do reformer Pilates is not true. All of the exercises can be progressed and regressed to the individual being taught.” 

Hollie Grant, who founded Pilates PT, says that the machine was literally designed to help support those who need it and to change the resistance level of what are traditionally mat Pilates exercises, to make them easier or more difficult. 

"Pilates is for anybody and everybody – and the reformer doesn’t discriminate; it's there to help us all,” Grant adds, adding that it’s a good option for those with injuries too.

However, TODAY cautions that one should always consult their medical provider before starting a new type of exercise, especially if they fall into a higher-risk category. For example, those in their third trimester of pregnancy, may want to be wary of reformer Pilate exercises that require them to lie flat on their back, and those with spinal injuries will need to adjust certain workout moves to prevent exacerbating the injury.

With that in mind, Reformer pilates can still be an effective workout for pregnant women or individuals with injuries. In fact, Paula Lester, who manages a Pilates studio, tells TODAY that her pregnant sister found using a reformer machine easier than getting down on a mat.

Reformer Pilates can strengthen core
Lester also says that reformer Pilates is ideal for “core stability” and “good postural alignment.” That’s because pilates reformers are effective at strengthening and stabilizing your core because the machines are built for it. The springs allow for more adjustable resistance than mat Pilates does and the cables make it easy to extend arm and leg muscles. 

Physical therapist Julie O’Connell says that from her experience with reformer Pilates, “Visually, you will see strong and lean muscles with improved posture. With the focus on core stability and total body strength, Pilates will help to facilitate muscle activation and development to support proper spinal alignment.”

As effective as reformer Pilates is at strengthening core, it’s not just for core, according to TODAY. Reformer Pilates can also help stretch and tone other muscle groups. For example, Lester says that the machine can be used for footwork and working out leg muscles. 

Using the footbar, while prone on the machine, “encourages proper alignment of the hips, pelvis, knees and ankles. Since our feet take so much abuse daily just by walking, the footwork series is helpful as it strengthens the muscles of the feet and stabilizes the ankle joint. It can help with pain in the feet including plantar fasciitis,” she explains.

Keep breathing
Beyond the major muscle groups, reformer Pilates also involves elements of breathwork.

Shaw tells Harper’s Bazaar that, "Holding the breath is a common mistake. Breath is one of the six Pilates core principles and we encourage breath with the movement. Breathing is proven to lower blood pressure, helps to bring one's focus from the mind to the body and helps engage the deeper abdominal muscles.

In the world of fitness, reformer Pilates stands out as an inclusive and effective workout for everyone. Both for athletes and beginners, young and old, the reformer machine caters to all. It's time to breathe, move, and enjoy the benefits of reformer Pilates.

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