Reformer pilates demystified
Reformer Pilates is like Pilates on steroids. We get all of the wonderful benefits of a low impact workout with the additional opportunity to challenge ourselves, build muscle, target certain parts of our body, improve our breathing control, and tone up. Reformer is also excellent for improving our posture, preventing injury and ensuring all parts of our body can be lengthened, strengthened, and stretched (admit it, we’ve all got muscles that we neglect or deliberately forget to use!)
The springs of the roller bed and platform are what set reformer Pilates apart from mat-based Pilates - the springs create resistance which can be adjusted up and down, and deepen traditional, and some of the reformer-only, moves. There are a range of movements and poses that can be performed on the platform and feel both empowering and balletic because of the transitions and momentum that are afforded by the sliding elements of the machine.
Reformer Pilates machines can vary in design and have different features. Most Reformers, however, see poses, postures and sequences revolve around using the bars at the end of each bed for stability and balance, and then involve pushing or controlling the rest of the bed with the feet or hands. The platform is on rollers or springs and slides up and down a track or slide rails. There are also movements that can be done with the elastic cords or rowing-like implements that are attached to the platform - these offer a decent, arm-based work out.
Reformer Pilates does use equipment that must be taken seriously - trapping clothes and fingers is to be avoided. As such it’s important to wear activewear that won’t drop and slide off, dangle down or get in the way. We recommend a vest, tank top or bra top and leggings. It can get toasty but leggings are better than shorts to avoid any accidental grazes and to maximise grip. We should also take a towel to ensure the platform doesn’t because too slippery.
We love reformer Pilates - it’s such a great way of maximising the effects of a typical Pilates routine. While it is possible to buy a bed to use at home, this is one of the rare occasions where we very much recommend investing in classes. Doing the movements right, to both avoid injury and get the most out of Reformer, is essential. The buzz of a class is great too - there’s nothing like feeling the burn and sharing in challenging our bodies as a collective!
Some of our favourite London-based studios are below - they come tried, tested and recommended by us. Happy sliding!