woman on pilates reformer

The reformer is an iconic piece of equipment in the Pilates practice.

When you first see it, you might think “medieval torture device,” however the Pilates reformer is a fantastic piece of exercise equipment allowing you to complete Pilates exercises and movements at a level that is both challenging and doable, no matter your fitness level.

The Pilates reformer consists of a carriage which is connected to a stand at one end with springs – allowing different levels of resistance. The carriage generally includes shoulder blocks to help keep your body both on the carriage and aligned properly throughout the Pilates exercises you participate in.  The end opposite the springs contains a foot bar, which can be used as resistance against wish you can push with your feet or hands to move the carriage along the track of the reformer.  Straps with handles are also included, which allow for even more diverse movements. The reformer allows you to use your body weight or the reformer’s springs and pulleys as resistance for your Pilates practice.

Core muscles are some of the main muscles targeted in Pilates practice. The reformer’s springs create an unstable surface for which the core muscles must compensate. The less surface area of the body in contact with the reformer surface, the more the core muscles must engage to create smooth and elongated movements.

The Pilates reformer is often used in rehabilitation of special populations with loss of muscle strength or for those with back pain.  However, the reformer is also a fantastic piece of equipment for all Pilates students, whether beginner or advanced. Pilates instructors can work with you in reformer classes or private pilates sessions in order to perfect your alignment and to create the amount of resistance that is right for you.  Advanced Pilates students, who may find mat work less challenging, are able to push their bodies with the reformer to create extra resistance not offered by their bodyweight. Beginner Pilates students, or students recovering from injury may find it easier to find proper alignment while using this piece of equipment. The reformer can be adjusted to allow for easier Pilates movements, allowing beginners with little muscle strength to build the strength they need to be successful in practicing mat exercises at home or to build up to higher resistance on the Pilates reformer.

The Pilates reformer allows for a full range of motion, and most importantly, allows for eccentric muscle contractions – or contraction of muscles that are already extended.  In this way the reformer encourages strong and lean muscles for which many Pilates students strive.

In short, this piece of equipment allows you to make Pilates work for you. Whether you need assistance with difficult Pilates exercises or more resistance to push your muscles and gain advanced muscle tone, the Pilates reformer can help you be the best you.

Contact Sheppard Method Pilates for more information about reformer classes, private pilates classes or Pilates certification for future instructors.