Pilates with Machine: What is Reformer Pilates? Your Ultimate Guide

pilates with machine

Reformers, as the name suggests, literally help you ‘reform’ your whole body. Whether you are a patient in rehab, a fitness enthusiast, someone looking to feel better and tone up, or an athlete who wants to cross-train, a Reformer Pilates workout is what you need.

What is Pilates?

Joseph Pilates developed this system of exercise called ‘the art of controlled movements’ or “Contrology” in the early 1900s. Contrology is commonly known as Pilates. Pilates strengthens the core muscles for increased stability and enhanced flexibility when practiced consistently, with emphasis on breathing and alignment. This in turn improves the overall posture, coordination, and balance of the body. There are various types of Pilates methods, but they all can be bifurcated into two types. 1) Pilates done on a mat i.e Mat Pilates 2) Pilates that needs a piece of equipment i.e. reformer Pilates.

What Is a Pilates Reformer?

When Pilates exercises are done using specialized equipment, it’s called reformer Pilates. The machine is called a reformer. The reformer is probably the best-known resistance equipment in a gym these days. This specialized equipment is built using springs and pulleys attached to a bed frame with a moving carriage. Reformer helps perform resistance workouts targeted at specific muscle groups.

This system was developed, at a camp during World War 1, to help with the recovery of the injured soldiers. For this Joseph Pilates attached springs to hospital beds and Viola! The first ‘reformer’ was born. The soldiers who followed this regime showed faster recovery.

After many modifications and improvements, the modern-day ‘reformers’ became popular for overall improved fitness and as effective rehabilitation tools. 

How Does A Pilates Reformer Machine Work?

The Pilates Reformer has a bed-like frame with a moving platform known as a carriage. It rolls back and forth with the help of small wheels. 

A set of springs attaches the carriage to one end of the reformer. The springs offer resistance when the carriage is pushed or pulled by your own body.

The shoulder blocks attached to the carriage keep you from sliding off the reformer by offering a stable position.

A foot bar at the other end of the reformer is adjustable to place your hands or foot on it depending upon the exercise.  

Long straps with handles are attached to the top of the reformer frame which is opposite to the footbar.

The adjustable springs, at both ends of the reformer, help modify the workout for different intensity of resistance training for various purposes.

Is Reformer Pilates Right for Me?

Pilates is suitable for anyone and everyone. Reformers help all of us! It is for

  • Patients in rehab
  • People with desk jobs who sit too much
  • Fitness enthusiasts
  • Pro athletes
  • Sportspersons looking for sport-specific cross-training
  • People targeting to increase muscle strength and endurance
  • Elderly people who want to improve their coordination and balance 
  • Someone looking for a pre/postnatal fitness 
  • People of all fitness levels
  • People of all ages, sizes & shapes

Reformer Pilates is perfect for all lifestyles.

What are the Benefits of Reformer Pilates?

The Reformer Pilates workouts are challenging and yet not super complex. Breathing and precision play a vital part to reap the benefits of Reformer Pilates which go far beyond building strong core muscles. It also helps to:

  • Lose weight
  • Tone up the body
  • Gain muscle mass faster
  • Increase muscle endurance
  • Increase bone density
  • Boost cardiovascular health
  • Enhance balance and coordination
  • Improve flexibility and mobility

Reformer Pilates workouts bring the body into harmony, ease your mind and thus make your experience that ‘feel good’ factor.

How Often Can I Take a Reformer Pilates Class?

A typical reformer Pilates class usually starts with warm-up stretches and ends with a cooldown regime.

  • If you are a beginner, start with one session every week. This will give you a fair idea of how your body responds to the reformer Pilates workout.
  • Start with two sessions every week if you are quite fit.
  • Experienced and fit people can take as many sessions, every week, as they wish to.

Just remember to always listen to your body. Give yourself recovery time at least once every week.

What are the Side Effects of a Reformer Pilates Workout?

If you haven’t been exercising enough in the recent past, you may show signs of fatigue when you start your reformer workout sessions.

Some may experience minor aches and pains while others may have soreness in their muscles. This is common in the beginning. The over-exercising or improper form may lead to strained ligaments or a damaged spine.

Remember, common sense is the key to avoiding injury during your workouts. Listen to your body to get the best out of your reformer workouts. Everybody can use the reformer to feel better. This machine hardly has any disadvantages. 

In case of a disability or a medical condition, your medical practitioner may be your best guide.

Like every other form of workout, this workout also has the possibility of you getting hurt. Before you start the class, inform the instructor about any pre-existing medical condition or recent medical procedure.

The exercises and the equipment, both can be modified to suit your specific requirements. This makes it easier to avoid injury during an adequately supervised reformer class.

The Bottomline on How Your Body is ‘Reformed’ With Reformer Pilates

Versatility and diversity in exercises offered by the reformer have played a major role in the popularity of these workouts. This user-friendly and modifiable piece of equipment helps get excellent results for everyone. The diversity of the workouts brings you back to the gym for every session where you see your body being ‘reformed’ in as little as 10-12 sessions.


Medha Mehta

Medha Mehta

Medha is a Sr. content marketing manager at Yottled. She is passionate about writing, SEO, and digital marketing. She's a tech and cybersecurity enthusiast.

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