Reformer pilates classes are a great way to increase your strength and flexibility while improving posture and movement. However, as with all group fitness classes it’s essential to ensure you’re working with a certified instructor who has completed extensive mat and equipment training before starting – especially if you’re pregnant or recovering from injury. Those who are looking to build a solid Pilates foundation should consider a beginners class that provides an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the Reformer at a beginner pace while also building a strong technical understanding to carry forward into other group reformer workouts.
The reformer is a contraption made up of several parts including a moving carriage (which can move backward and forward) and adjustable springs, a foot bar, a standing platform, shoulder blocks and a head rest. A variety of other equipment can be added to the machine depending on the workout.
Most traditional reformer machines have yellow, blue and red springs that can be adjusted to create different levels of resistance. This can help beginners get a feel for the different levels of difficulty, but it’s important to listen to your instructor and always start at the lowest possible spring setting. The goal is to move slowly, stabilise and engage the core – not speed through the exercises.
Many runners who practise reformer Pilates report that it helps them improve their running technique. The slow and controlled movements strengthen the muscles of the core, which can help stabilise the hip and improve running posture. Additionally, learning how to breathe properly on the Reformer can help runners increase oxygenation and stamina and reduce fatigue.
A consistent Pilates practice, particularly on the reformer, is often reported to decrease back pain. Reformer Pilates builds the deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, which supports the core during daily movements and helps alleviate back pain by reducing stress on the lower back. During pregnancy, reformer work can safely strengthen the core and pelvic floor muscles while helping increase body awareness and postural corrections that may lead to less back pain during labour.
Having good core and pelvic floor muscles is also thought to make labour easier, but many women don’t realise they need these muscles until it’s too late. As well as the physical benefits, strengthening these muscles can help with digestion and bowel function and improve sleep.
The Pilates instructor will be able to check in on your form and adjust the moves as necessary during the class. She will also be able to identify any injuries or restrictions that need to be taken into account and modify the workout accordingly. She will also be able to recommend other Pilates classes to you and work with you during your recovery period if needed.