Reformer Pilates

Reformer Pilates Classes Chico

Pilates, a system of exercises developed by German-born Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, comprises primarily mat work and apparatus exercises. The majority of Pilates’ exercises are meant to be performed interchangeably on the mat or on the universal reformer. While the mat relies on gravity against body weight to create resistance, the reformer has a system of springs and pulleys that offer resistance and assistance at the same time.

Wide Variety of Full Body Exercises

The reformer “is versatile beyond imagination,” according to Rael Isacowitz, author of “Pilates.” You can perform movements in almost any position, including supine, prone, seated, standing and side-lying. Through the wide variety of movement possibilities, the reformer can work every muscle of the body. It has specific series of exercises for the feet, abdominals, chest, hips, legs, arms, shoulders, back and the spine. In addition, one series of reformer exercises is devoted to total body integration — recruiting large muscle groups and requiring the entire body to perform as a well-integrated machine.

Unrepeatable, Non-Weight-Bearing Exercises

Certain Pilates exercises can’t be duplicated on the mat or any other apparatus because they are on the reformer. For example, the series of footwork exercises is more suitable to the reformer because the body is in a relaxed, non-weight-bearing position and the feet can work in a more balanced way. Because the torso and the pelvis are also more stabilized on the reformer, it’s easier to keep the integrity of a neutral spine and proper overall alignment.

Improve Your Range of Motion

Because the spring and pulley system both sets resistance and provides assistance and support, the body’s range of motion can comfortably increase. The hip flexor, hamstring and adductor muscle stretches cannot be replicated as successfully on the mat or the cadillac. The straps help the body open while allowing complete muscle activation. The springs provide the same benefit. If the springs are released in certain stretches or exercises, it becomes much more challenging to control the muscles.

Professional Trainer Observation

The reformer offers trainers a good position for observing their clients. Pilates trainers must correct both alignment and muscle action in every exercise, from start to finish. For example, in a basic pelvic curl, the movement is initiated from the abdominal muscles, while the hamstrings and gluteus muscles assist. On the reformer, trainers can easily see whether their clients are pushing with assisting muscles instead of engaging primary muscles. Proper alignment is critical to all Pilates exercises, and trainers can seamlessly make major and minor adjustments to clients’ form while on the reformer.

Total Progression

You can use the reformer to perform fundamental and extremely advanced Pilates exercises, as well as every level in between. Changing the level of resistance in the springs is one way to progress a single exercise; adding another piece of equipment is another way. For example, rather than performing the Hundred in the traditional reformer fashion, you can put a half-foam roll on the carriage and lie on it with your spine along the center of the roll. This adds an element of instability, causing you to have to focus on properly recruiting your abdominal muscles.