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Written by Kristina Rihanoff 

As a professional dancer, I was always on the lookout for exercises that would keep my body fit, increase my flexibility and endurance, while being gentle on my joints. During my time in the US, I explored many styles of exercise, and reformer Pilates particularly resonated with me. I firmly believe that a regular practice of Yoga and Reformer conditioning classes played a crucial role in helping me avoid the injuries common among professional dancers.

Years later, I am now a Senior Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals and an accredited CPD Courses provider at my wellness center, Soo Yoga. Last year, I developed my own teacher training course, "Reformer Yogalates," which merges my two favorite forms of exercise: yoga and Pilates.

As the owner of a wellness center, I can attest that reformer classes are extremely popular with my clients. This popularity stems from the reformers ability to offer a versatile range of experiences suitable for everyone, regardless of age or ability. This includes pregnant and postnatal clients, the elderly, and those with mobility issues.

Here's a brief overview of what reformer Pilates classes are all about:

Reformer Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates, a German physical trainer, and founder of the Pilates method. He developed the Pilates method in the early 20th century, primarily during World War I. Joseph Pilates used his knowledge of martial arts, gymnastics, and other forms of exercise to create a system that focused on improving physical strength, flexibility, and overall fitness.

The Pilates reformer apparatus was invented by Joseph  around the same time. He initially constructed the apparatus using bed springs and other materials available during the war. It was designed to help injured soldiers rehabilitate and regain their strength.

After the war, Joseph Pilates and his wife Clara continued to refine and promote the Pilates method and the use of the reformer. They opened the first Pilates studio in New York City in the 1920s, where they trained dancers and athletes. Over time, the method gained popularity among the fitness and rehabilitation communities.

The reformer apparatus, with its unique combination of resistance and support, became a key component of the Pilates method and played a significant role in popularising Pilates as a form of exercise for strength, flexibility, and overall well-being. Today, reformer Pilates is widely practiced in fitness studios and has evolved into various styles and approaches while staying true to its core principles. They become very trendy piece of equipment after being used by Kim Kardashian and Victoria’s Secret models. 

1. What is reformer Pilates?

• Reformer Pilates is a form of exercise that uses a specialised apparatus called a Pilates reformer. This apparatus consists of a sliding carriage with adjustable springs, handles, and straps. It’s designed to facilitate a wide range of Pilates exercises that target core strength, flexibility, and overall body conditioning. The reformer provides resistance and support to help you perform precise movements.

2. How does it differ from regular Pilates?

• The key difference between reformer Pilates and regular Pilates lies in the equipment used. While regular Pilates often involves exercises performed on a mat or with small props like balls, resistance, bands or Pilates ring “magic circles” reformer Pilates incorporates the Pilates reformer machine. The reformer adds resistance, allowing for a more extensive repertoire of exercises and precise control over movements. It’s particularly effective in isolating and targeting specific muscle groups.

3. Who is it suitable for?

• Reformer Pilates is suitable for a wide range of individuals, including beginners, pregnant and postnatal clients and experienced exercisers too. It’s especially beneficial for those looking to improve core strength, posture, flexibility, and balance. The adjustable resistance levels make it adaptable to different fitness levels and physical abilities. However, if you have specific medical conditions or injuries, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified instructor or healthcare professional before starting reformer Pilates. Reformer Pilates known as a great way to rehab after knee, hip injury or operations but this most of times will require one to one sessions rather than group classes. 

4. What are the benefits of reformer Pilates?

• The benefits of reformer Pilates are: 

• Improved Core Strength: Reformer Pilates targets deep core muscles, helping to build a strong and stable core.

• Enhanced Flexibility: The stretching exercises on the reformer improve flexibility and range of motion.

• Better Posture: Regular practice can help correct posture imbalances and reduce the risk of back pain.

• Increased Muscle Tone: It tones and sculpts various muscle groups for a leaner appearance.

• Injury Rehabilitation: It can aid in injury recovery by providing controlled and low-impact exercises.

• Stress Reduction: Focused breathing and mindful movements promote relaxation and stress relief.

5. What is the general price range for reformer Pilates?

• The cost of reformer Pilates classes can vary depending on location, studio, and package options. On average, a single group reformer class may range from £20 to £40. Many studios offer package deals or monthly memberships that can make classes more cost-effective. 

6. If people can’t afford to commit to classes/one-on-one sessions, is there anything they can do at home that would have a similar effect?

• While home-based Pilates exercises may not replicate the full range of movements possible on a reformer, you can still achieve many benefits. You can find instructional videos and mat-based Pilates routines online or invest in affordable Pilates props like resistance bands, exercise balls, and foam rollers. These can help you engage core muscles and work on flexibility. However, for a more comprehensive and tailored experience, it’s highly recommended to attend classes or sessions with a certified Pilates instructor, even if it’s on a less frequent basis to learn correct alignment and modifications if necessary. 

To conclude why reformer Pilates is a hot trend at the moment:

Reformer Pilates offers a full-body workout that targets core muscles, improves flexibility, and enhances strength. It appeals to those looking for a holistic approach to fitness.

It’s great for wide range of clients because it’s a Low Impact practice: The low-impact nature of reformer Pilates makes it accessible to a wide range of people, including those recovering from injuries or looking for a gentle yet effective workout.

Stress Relief: The focus on controlled movements and mindful breathing in Pilates can provide stress relief, which is particularly appealing in today’s fast-paced world.

Variety of Exercises: The reformer apparatus allows for a wide variety of exercises and modifications, ensuring that workouts remain engaging and challenging.

Visible Results: Many practitioners of reformer Pilates report improved posture, increased muscle tone, and enhanced overall well-being, which can be motivating for others to give it a try!



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