Pilates reformer is Everywhere. If it’s not our favorite celebs doing it (Adele, Hailey Bieber, and Margot Robbie are all avid fans), it’s all over Instagram, so if you’re new to reforming Pilates, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about.
Additionally, a UK survey by HFE found that 70% of people would now choose Pilates over yoga; most cite its potential with weight loss and muscle toning, as well as strength and flexibility training. These are all valid benefits of the Pilates reformer, but there are more. Reformer Pilates can also be effective for weight loss, if that’s your goal, and using the plank can test your balance and coordination. Read on for our full list of Reformer Pilates benefits, as well as the difference between Reformer Pilates and regular Pilates, and the best Reformer Pilates classes in London.
What is a Reforming Pilates?
The Reformer, the name given to the entire platform and frame, is probably the most famous piece of Pilates equipment. And, if you’re not familiar, it looks a bit scary.
In reformer Pilates, a frame, called a “carriage,” moves on wheels and is attached at one end by a set of springs, which provide resistance as the platform moves. There is also a foot bar and long straps, which can be used for the legs and arms, and shoulder blocks to prevent the exerciser from falling when exercising.
A Pilates reformer machine can be used in a wide variety of ways to benefit strength, flexibility and balance; most involve pushing or pulling the platform against spring resistance and controlling the rearward movement, or holding it in place, although this can be done while standing, sitting, upside down, and using the various Reformer elements.
The versatility of the equipment means that it can continue to challenge even the most experienced Pilates practitioners; often holding more of the body off the deck or with the springs on a lighter setting, which requires more strength and commitment.
Is Mat Pilates as good as Reformer Pilates?
Regarding Mat Pilates, “You can simply do more on the Reformer,” says Justin Rogers, brand director for Ten Health & Fitness. “With the combination of adjustable spring resistance and a sliding platform, the Reformer can create resistance or instability (or both) to make exercises easier or harder in ways the mat can’t.”
What are the benefits of Pilates Reformer?
Have you SEEN Elle Macpherson (just one of many who loves herself as a reforming Pilates fix)? Although the results speak for themselves, the benefits of Pilates aren’t just celebrity stuff.
“It’s great for everyone as it’s an inclusive training method,” says James Shaw, Pilates instructor at Frame. “Whether you’re a professional athlete, an office worker, or an exercise novice, the pilates reformer will help you develop your entire body.”
Like Mat Pilates, Reformer Pilates benefits include the following:
- Improves strength, particularly around the core, back, glutes, and thighs.
- improves flexibility
- improves balance
- Improve focus
- Improves coordination
- improve posture
- Improves body alignment.
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves cardiovascular health
- May relieve lower back pain as it focuses on stabilizing the muscles of the spine
- May help with weight loss, when combined with balanced nutrition
Even though the internet leads you to believe that Pilates creates long, lean muscles, it doesn’t. I do not can lengthen your muscles. Think how you would look if you did and your muscles were longer than your bones. What it does do is strengthen muscles through ‘eccentric muscle contractions’, which is the name given to the movement of an active muscle that lengthens while resisting a force or load. Eccentric training, to which Reformer Pilates belongs, involves doing this repeatedly.
Does Reformer Pilates also have conscious benefits?
Although, unlike yoga, reforming Pilates was not invented as a spiritual activity, it is certainly a conscious one. Proven mental benefits include improving memory; train the brain; the good old kick of endorphins; and relieve anxiety and depression.
There are also specific exercises designed to cleanse the body of stress hormones, as well as release tension in the face that is not targeted during a normal stretching session.
Since breathing is the latest buzzword in wellness, it is worth noting that it is one of the six fundamental principles of Pilates, and Pilates himself says, “Above all, learn to breathe correctly.” This is also a technique applied in reformer Pilates.
“The main thing beginners do wrong in Reformer Pilates is holding their breath,” says Shaw. “We encourage breathing with the movement to help engage the deeper abdominal muscles, lower blood pressure, and help bring focus from the mind to the body.”
How to use a pilates reformer
Reformer Pilates is accessible to any age and fitness level, but it’s worth taking classes or getting a private teacher to make sure you understand the fundamentals of Pilates and how to properly isolate and activate your core muscles. We also strongly recommend that you attend a Pilates reformer class if you are pregnant, rather than trying a machine on your own.
The teachers will explain to you exactly how to use the board, but your form and posture are the key. “Proper form and alignment are a fundamental part of Pilates, and it’s easy to feel like you’re in the right position when you’re not,” says Justin Rogers, brand director for Ten Health & Fitness. “Often just a small change in your form will make a big difference in how effectively you’re working and what muscles you’re working. A good instructor will manually adjust his position to ensure that he is performing each exercise as safely and effectively as possible.’
Best Reformer Pilates Classes in London
1. Ten health and fitness
Enthusiastic champions of the benefits of Reformer, Ten has taken the technique of Pilates and added its own refinements, including elements from other disciplines such as circuits, weights and twists, for maximum body sculpting effect.
Price: £30 per class
Location: Chiswick, Notting Hill, Little Venice, Mayfair, St James’s, Fitzrovia, Tottenham Court Road, Hatton Garden, City
By breaking down its Reformer offering into Basic, Arms & Abs, Butt & Abs, Power, and Advanced, Frame lets you choose the class that suits your experience and fitness levels.
Price: £20 per class
Location: Shoreditch, Kings Cross, Victoria, Hammersmith, Farringdon, Fitzrovia
3. Pilates Headquarters
Divided into Beginner and Intermediate, with an occasional cardio focus, Pilates HQ classes, housed in a simple, bright, light-filled studio, are a comprehensive starting point for your Reformer journey.
Price: £25 per class
As the name suggests, Tempo sets your Reformer session to an eclectic mix of ‘awesome’ music that sets the pace for your body conditioning sequence; offered in five different experience levels, from Beginner to TP X-Press Level 3, incorporating “tough love” HIIT and Up-Tempo Pilates L3.
Price: £30 per class
Location: Shoreditch, Hackney, Covent Garden
5. Kensington Core
The crème de la crème de la Reformer, Core Kensington’s minimal studio only has room for six practitioners per class, meaning you’ll get your money’s worth from the teacher’s attention.
Price: £30 per class
As an introduction to the Joseph Pilates technique, there is nothing better than Exhale. With state-of-the-art equipment, highly experienced teachers, and a maximum of six people per class, you’ll get the most effective version of Reformer.
Price: £35 per class
Location: chalk farm
7. Powerful Pilates
Price: £24 per class
As the name suggests, Beckenham’s Power Pilates prides itself on its fast-paced, energy reforming Pilates classes that promise a real burn. The teachers are unmatched in both skill and motivation (we’re big fans of Natalie Scrutton), with an attention to form for each participant that makes you feel like you’re the only one in the class (and you’ll never be sure what to do – particularly noteworthy for beginners).
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