From the start, Joseph Pilates used a rich variety of equipment for his exercise system. This included The Reformer, Wunda Chair, the Trap Table (also known as the Cadillac) and more. It is good to know what each of these apparatuses (as Pilates himself called them) looks like and does.
The reformer is a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called the carriage. This carriage rolls back and forth on wheels within the frame and is attached to one end of the reformer by springs. These springs then offer different levels of resistance or assistance to you as they push or pull the carriage depending on what exercises you are doing.
The exercises conducted here continue, as all Pilates exercises, to strengthen the core, and promote strength, flexibility, and balance.
Muscles execute force to overcome the resistance created by the spring loads. Depending on your rep ranges this will promote muscle growth, power and endurance. When our bodies are stronger we no longer fatigue easily throughout our normal days.
Improved Control and Coordination
The reformer requires a lot of control as the bed moves in and out, this puts your body under a lot of eccentric tension (the lowering phase of the movement) – another great way to build strength. If you do not control your movements, the beds will fling you around. This theoretically requires a lot of focus, mindfulness and control of your body. This is all teachable by the way!
Strengthens Within Your Full Range of Movement
Unlike traditional strength training or stretching using the reformer in your full range of movement will promote stable joints and prevent injury in anything else you choose to do.
Example think of doing the full splits, it’s fair to say we are fairly weak in that extended range of movement, but using the reformer will provide spring loaded resistance in that extended range therefore adding a strength component to the exercise. Once you have stability in that range you can take the spring loads off and you will find you have a lot more control of your body in its full range of movement. This is very beneficial for athletes (think of reaching for a ball) or your everyday person who wants overall body conditioning.
Increased Core Strength
“The purpose of your core is to stabilize your spine/center while your limbs move”. Nothing on the Pilates Reformer is isolated. As the bed moves in and out and your are using your limbs to perform exercises you MUST engage your core muscles, if you do not – you fall off. All exercises are executed with proper posture and alignment as we always follows the Pilates Principles such are control, centering and alignment no matter what exercises we do.
It Can Ease Back Pain
By stabilizing the cores lumbar-pelvic (lower-back) region, Pilates alleviates stress on the area and ups mobility. This is because in Pilates we always focus on proper alignment, technique and posture. We ensure you are using the correct muscles to execute movements and give you steps to achieve this if you are not.
It Hones Your Focus
Aside from its physiological effects, Pilates benefits your mental health by urging you to focus on
1) your breath,
2) your body,
3) how they move together.
It takes a lot of concentration, otherwise you wobble or fall off. “You can’t zone out.” That means you’re forced to forget about work, drama, bills ect for a full hour workout. Ahh how peaceful.
When you’re tight, you shorten your muscle and limit your body’s range of motion. At best, that can hurt your exercise performance.
At worst, it can cause injury. Joseph Pilates said
“In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body”.
Saying this you do not need to be flexible to start, it is one of many benefits you will attain by doing so.