one2one’s APPI and Peak Pilates Certified instructor, Tina Lloyd, from Trepilates, explains what the reformer is and how it aids a Pilates workout
The reformer was invented by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates. It is a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called the carriage, which rolls back and forth on wheels within the frame. The carriage is attached to one end of the reformer by a set of springs, the other with pullies.
Springs provide choices of differing levels of resistance as the carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame.
One of the best things about 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, with additional equipment, upside down, sideways, and all kinds of variations.
The reformer can train many parts and dynamics of the body in many different ways with just one relatively sleek piece of equipment.
There are many, many reformer exercises, including those for beginners and those that challenge the most advanced practitioners. For example, there are beginner Pilates reformer workouts and intermediate Pilates reformer rowing exercise workouts.
The reformer offers all the 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.
The Pilates powerhouse muscles—the muscles of the core—are paramount for building strength. Flat abs, strong backs, toned buttocks, and firm 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 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.