Everyone is talking about Reformer Pilates. It’s been around for many, many years, but traditionally in a clinical setting with physios and health practitioners or in small groups. But recently, in the past 12 months, group classes have really boomed. So what’s all the fuss about?
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s. Joseph Pilates believed that the mind and body strength were interrelated. The main principles in pilates are focus and control, breathing, flow and postural alignment. Breathing is really important, Joseph Pilates believed that being mindful of the breath, makes the exercise cleansing and invigorating.
All exercises start from the centre and work their way out, i.e. every exercise has a focus first on the power house of the body which includes the abdominals, lower back, glutes and hips. Traditional mat classes focus on body weight exercises but by adding the reformer bed, suddenly there is a much greater repertoire of exercises on offer, and it provides opportunity to accelerate the training of stretching, strengthening, and body alignment as well as increased core strength using resistance with springs.
Reformer pilates is also low impact, so wonderful for those with joint problems, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, among other things. Another reason pilates is so popular is that it is all about inclusion, not exclusion. A great instructor can cater to your needs and provide options for you if you can’t perform a particular exercise so that you are still working whilst everyone else is doing something slightly different. But remember the larger the group, the harder this can be, so perhaps ask your instructor first if it’s suitable or perhaps finding out about private sessions or smaller groups may be a better starting point.
Your first reformer class is a big learning curve, so expect to feel uncoordinated and a little overwhelmed. If your studio offers a beginners class, make sure you go to that first! And it is also recommended that you have tried a pilates mat class or two first before you progress to a reformer class.
Many people are quite scared of the reformer when they first see it as it looks quite intimidating and almost medieval. Put any fears you may have aside because after just one or two workouts on a reformer, you realise that it is the most versatile and effective piece of exercise equipment ever made…plus it’s great fun!
One more reason reformer pilates is growing in popularity, is that it’s a great exercise program to do with your man/brother/dad. In fact, it’s really beneficial for men to supplement their strength training in the gym – so invite them to your next class!