The Pilates reformer and practice offer all the benefits that lead to daily life improvements and relief from the pain associated with physical imbalances. It can be a very efficient workout tool to strengthen and lengthen muscles. Learn more about the benefits below and get ready to begin a new chapter in your exercise journey. Don’t be held back if you’re unsure about starting something new — we can walk you through with our one-on-one coaching — and make the process very enjoyable! Just call us and see!
What’s the difference between Pilates and Reformer Pilates? When it comes to mats vs. reformers, both Pilates types are focused on moving in a slow and controlled manner to strengthen your muscles and improve posture and alignment.
But mat Pilates involves creating resistance with your body weight and sometimes other hand-held props while, you guessed it, planted on the floor. And, on the flip side, the reformer is a tricked-out platform that uses a spring system as resistance, Gia Calhoun, Pilates instructor and vice president of Pilates Anytime, tells LIVESTRONG.com. “The reformer has different compartments, including a carriage that moves and is connected to springs, which attach to the frame,” she says.
By exercising on the reformer’s moving carriage, or platform, you’re not only able to enjoy the base benefits of Pilates — including better back health, flexibility and body awareness, you’re able to take them to the next level.
Read on to learn all of the benefits of the Pilates reformer machine.
7 Ways the Pilates Reformer Benefits Your Workouts
1. It Challenges Your Entire Body
Pilates is known for placing a big emphasis on core strength. The reformer keeps that focus, but also makes it easier to strengthen your entire body.
“There are more arms- and legs-specific exercises for the reformer,” Calhoun says. For instance, with the machine, you can use the straps to do arm and leg curls, shoulder raises, and glute kickbacks.
2. It Lets You Control the Resistance
Because the reformer uses springs as resistance, and you get to attach and detach the springs you want, you also get to select just how “heavy” any given exercise feels.
For example, if you have trouble with squats, you can do them lying on your back on the reformer. By pressing your feet against the end of the reformer, you can do squats without putting as much stress on your knees and without needing to balance.
Or, if you want to up the challenge on your body-weight squat, you can choose the reformer’s heaviest springs and put your muscles to the test.
3. It Works Your Muscles Multiple Ways
The Pilates reformer benefits your muscles by working them through each of their three possible actions: concentric, eccentric and isometric, Calhoun says.
Concentric movements are what you probably think of as muscle contractions — they involve your muscle fibers shortening and working with resistance.
Eccentric motions are the opposite, and equate to your muscle fibers lengthening. For example, when you lower from a forward fold to a plank, your abs work eccentrically to control your lowering. Reformers make it easier to work your muscles eccentrically during Pilates exercises.
Last but not least, isometric movements are the hold-it-right-there poses that are all about control. Again, here’s a place where reformers really excel.
4. It’s Versatile
The reformer provides endless ways to do strength exercises, thanks to the multiple attachments and props you can add like jump boards, poles, and plank bars.
With them, you have the option to do closed-chain movements or open-chain movements — meaning your hand or foot is fixed to an object (the platform of the reformer) or is able to move freely (usually the foot or hand is in a strap). You can do exercises lying down, kneeling, or standing up.
This makes it easy to customize your workout according to your fitness level, goals, and work with any physical considerations like previous injury.
5. It’s Gentle on Your Joints
Another benefit of the Pilates reformer is that it involves no impact on your joints, Calhoun says. Plus, when you do exercises from a seated or lying position, it’s non-weight-bearing — meaning you don’t have gravity challenging your joints.
This makes it a great cross-training workout for runners, and also a solid workout method for people with arthritis or other health issues that make high-impact workouts painful or unsafe.
Reformers are also great for rehabbing injuries, Calhoun says. (Though you’ll definitely want to work with your doctor and a certified Pilates instructor if you’re currently rehabbing an injury.)
6. It Trains Your Full Range of Motion
The bars and cables of the reformer help move your body through a full range of motion — something you might not be able to do on your own. When you hold the cables at your arms or fix the cables to your feet, you can’t help but extend to the fullest to follow their track.
“It’s easier to cheat on the mat, whereas the reformer you have to move a certain way,” Calhoun says.
You might have heard that reformers “lengthen” your muscles or give you “long and lean” muscles. You can’t ever make your muscles longer than they actually are, but what you can do is extend your muscle through its full range of motion. This gets the entire muscle working, not just a portion of it, Calhoun says, and also provides a dynamic stretch as you’re strengthening.
Working your muscles through a full range of motion is great for maintaining mobility and increasing strength, and is important for everyone, but especially important as you age, Calhoun says. “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
7. It’s Fun
You might not think this when you’re first learning to use it (because it can feel pretty dang hard at first), but the reformer can actually be really fun.
It’s a creative way to move your body and, once you’re experienced on the reformer, you may be able to do more flashy and acrobatic moves than you can on the mat. The possibilities are endless, and there’s always a new challenge you can work toward to keep your workouts fun and interesting.
At ABC Fit Studio, we offer different types of Pilates classes, from beginners to advanced. Our focus is on health and wellness, and we will help you commit to exercising by adding fun and diversity to your practice. Visit our Facebook Page, or schedule your first session today at 949-305-3310.