There is no more recognisable piece of Pilates equipment than the Pilates Reformer. And understandably so. The Pilates Reformer has a significant impact when you first see one and even more profound impact on the mind and body when you start using one.
Reformers are assembled in Pilates studios throughout the world, with classes becoming increasingly more popular. And in recent times, Reformers are gaining more prominence as part of people’s home exercise equipment.
So what makes the Pilates Reformer so special?
To start with, we’ll give you some background information on how a Reformer works and then elaborate to the amazing benefits that using this piece of equipment can provide.
WHAT IS A PILATES REFORMER?
Pilates originated from Joseph Pilates, who devised Pilates as a new approach to exercise and body conditioning in the early years of last century. To undertake this new exercise regime, Joseph created an ‘apparatus’. This reformer was a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called a carriage, which rolls back and forth the frame through the use of wheels. The carriage was attached to the frame by a set of springs of varying levels of tension, that provide increasing resistance as the carriage is moved along the frame.
At the spring end of the reformer there is an adjustable bar called a footbar. This can be used by the feet or hands by the user to move the carriage. The reformer also has long straps with handles on them that are attached to the top end of the frame. These straps can be pulled with legs or arms to move the carriage as well.
Body weight and resistance of the springs are what make the carriage more or less difficult to move. The parts of the reformer are designed to be adjustable to accommodate the differing body sizes of each user and for varying levels of skill.
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HOW IS A REFORMER USED?
One of the features of the reformer is its versatility. Exercises can be done lying down, sitting, standing, pulling the straps, pushing the footbar, perched on the footbar, perched on the shoulder blocks, using additional accessory equipment, upside down, sideways and with all kinds of variations. The reformer is unparalleled in its ability to train many parts and dynamics of the body in so many different ways - with just one relatively sleek piece of equipment.
More features, uses and benefits of Proactive Pilates Reformer Equipment
THE BENEFITS OF USING A PILATES REFORMER
The reformer offers all the famous benefits of Pilates including overall strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. These things in turn lead to daily life improvements like better posture, graceful and efficient movement, and for many, relief from pain associated with physical imbalances such as back pain.
When we talk about strength building and Pilates - the Pilates powerhouse muscles, the muscles of the core, are paramount. Flat abs, strong backs, toned buttock and thighs are all results of this emphasis. Other equipment and Pilates mat exercises do that too, but the reformer creates a unique and varied exercise environment.
The reformer is large enough to accommodate full-range motion which is wonderful for increasing flexibility while building strength. It promotes the length we want to create in the body for optimal movement. And it trains the body to sustain that length. Pushing and pulling with legs or arms against the resistance of the springs, carriage, and body weight is generally strength building. The exercises provide enough resistance and movement variety to help build strong bones. And there is a special feature: eccentric muscle contractions. This is when a muscle lengthens as it resists a force. The reformer is a set-up for eccentric contraction. That is one of the keys to achieving the long, strong muscles without bulk that Pilates is known for.
The instability of a rolling carriage with the springs set at different levels of resistance provides all kinds of stability challenges that develop core strength and promote better balance. For example, having less of the body on the carriage is one of the ways Pilates exercises get harder. It means more body weight has to be supported by the user, and the body and machine have to be controlled even more from the core. Paradoxically, when the springs are on a lighter setting some exercises are more challenging for the core because it has to work harder to control and stabilize the movement. The stronger core, the better the balance, posture, and overall well-being.
Exercising with the reformer is possible for anyone, at any level of fitness. It's no wonder the full name of the reformer is the Universal Reformer.
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