It’s no secret that physical activity improves your health by helping to strengthen and tone muscles and increase metabolism. We all want to look and feel good in our bodies, but when it comes to women’s overall health, a workout that only helps our physical health just doesn’t cut it anymore. Women “want it all” as the saying goes, and that holds true from what we expect from our workout.
Pilates Reformer gives us just that. There is a long list of mental AND physical benefits that you may experience from practicing Pilates Reformer. Improved concentration, reduced stress and anxiety, and better sleep cycles to name a few. Pilates Reformer has been shown to have the same effect on the mind and body as 30-minutes of mindful meditation. Before I elaborate on the mental benefits of the reformer, let me first give you some information on what the reformer is exactly.
So, what is Pilates Reformer?
The reformer was invented by Joseph Pilates. It is a bed-like frame with a flat platform that rolls back and forth on wheels. At Studio E, we use this apparatus as a part of our Reformer class under the direction of an instructor that uses springs for assistance and resistance to achieve proper muscle length and strength in an organized way. The Reformer sometimes is used to assist you on a certain exercise and other times it’s there to make it more difficult. There are pulleys, ropes, bars, rails, platforms, trampolines, and boxes that are used in every one of Studio E’s classes.
Sounds complicated, am I right? Most veteran students will admit, the first time they took a reformer class they were a little apprehensive, but all students would agree that once you try it, you “get it”. You may have read posts and articles before on the strengthening and lengthening benefits of the Reformer, and once you try it, it will all make sense. The springs (resistance) give your muscles the stretching and lengthening aspects your body needs while pulling the carriage in one direction, and also treats your body to the strengthening aspects of traditional weight bearing exercises while pushing the carriage in the opposite direction.
Let’s circle back to the mental and physical health gains we discussed earlier. I think this can be best explained by taking you through a traditional Studio E Reformer class.
What is a Reformer Class like?
Studio E has created an athletic style of class that is suitable for all levels. Each class puts your body through 50-minutes of slow and controlled resistance training exercises. Several exercises make up a series, and several series make up an entire class. Your instructor is dedicated to the 5 students in each class and will give you detailed guidance to give you the best workout specific to your body. In other words, you’ll be told exactly what to do and what’s coming next. You won’t have to guess at what springs to use or which arm to use first.
A Reformer class is a well-constructed piece of your day where your focus is on mind and body control. When do the meditation-like benefits take place? The entire class. Your instructor will educate you on the “3,2,1” pacing method that forces your mind to remain present during each repetition. Your pace will be mimicked by your breathing pattern that will teach your body how to effectively inhale and exhale. The instability of the rolling carriage with the springs set at various levels provides all kinds of stability challenges that develop core strength and promote better balance.
It’s difficult to show Reformer exercises in a photo, it just doesn’t do it justice compared to what your body will feel when trying it for yourself! It’s called intelligent exercise, and for good reason. The Reformer machine itself makes a dramatic impression when you first enter class, but it’s the dramatic change in your mind and body that will leave a lasting impression.
Who Should Take Reformer Classes?
Everyone. Pilates Reformer is the most versatile piece of workout machinery in the world. Exercises can be done lying down, sitting, kneeling, standing, or side-lying. Exercises can be modified for those who have injuries, are rehabbing from surgery, or are fighting a serious illness. Looking for an advanced class? They are all advanced. Looking for a beginner class? They are all beginner classes. Students take classes anywhere from 1 – 3 times per week. It depends on your goals and what other exercise you enjoy. I recommend maintaining a good mix of Reformer, body weight exercises (barre and yoga), and traditional strength training. The low-impact style of the Reformer will enable you to keep doing some of the higher impact sports you aren’t ready to give up yet, like running.
Starting something new can be daunting, especially for busy women that can’t afford to have their time wasted. All it takes is 1 class to see for yourself. Studio E is a safe and welcoming space full of determined women that are kind and eager to show their fellow females the ropes (no pun intended).
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To visit Studio E’s Reformer class schedule, click here.