Benefits of Reformer Pilates
There is no doubt that there are many benefits to Pilates in general. Doing Mat Pilates can strengthen, lengthen and give you a good workout without adding bulk. When I got certified to teach Pilates, I had to get my Mat certification first. Next I got certified to teach Reformer Pilates. The Reformer can be quite intimidating at first glance, especially if you are brand new to Pilates in general.
According to a recent study, Reformer classes are usually one of the main choices at Pilates studios. And portable reformers continue to grow as a home exercise equipment trend. Amazon sells them starting at about $800 and one of my fellow instructors purchased one for her home. I personally found them to be a little bulky to store and unstable when doing certain exercises.
So what makes the reformer so special? The Reformer was invented by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates. It is a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called the carriage, which rolls 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 provide choices of differing levels of resistance as the carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame. The carriage has shoulder blocks on it that keep a practitioner from sliding off the end of the reformer as they push or pull the carriage. There are many exercises an individual can do on the Reformer – it is not limited to a specific body part. That, in my opinion, is one of the many benefits of the Reformer. This piece of apparatus can work the legs, arms, abdominals, glutes and extension – all with no impact, such as running.
One of the best things about the reformer is its versatility. Exercises can be done 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. 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.
The reformer offers all the usual benefits of Pilates, including overall strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance.
These things lead to better posture, graceful, efficient movement, and for many, relief from back pain.
The Pilates powerhouse muscles, the core muscles, are paramount for building strength. Flat abs, strong backs, toned buttocks and thighs are all results of this work. Other equipment and Pilates mat exercises do that too, but the reformer creates a unique and varied exercise environment because of the coil springs and resistence.
The reformer is large enough to accommodate full-range motion which is wonderful for increasing flexibility while building strength.
Pushing and pulling with legs or arms against the resistance of the springs, carriage, and body weight is generally strength building. The movements provide resistance and movement to help build strong bones and eccentric muscle contractions. This is when a muscle lengthens and resists a force, which leads to achieving the long, strong muscles without bulk that Pilates is known for.