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Reformer Pilates

What is Reformer Pilates ?

Reformer Pilates is “having a moment”. Suddenly specialised studios are popping up all around, teaching and promoting “Reformer Pilates” and the Reformer is being mentioned in write ups about current go to fitness and wellness methods.  Pilates on the Reformer has actually been around for about 100 years and the equipment is, in all important aspects, the same as it was back at the start, just more polished, more engineered and available in new materials and colours. 

How did Joe Pilates create the Reformer?

Joe Pilates started experimenting with simple spring resistance apparatus while he was imprisoned during the First World War (see the Blog on our website) Joe came up with the Reformer and some other pieces of “big apparatus” used for teaching and expanding the reach of his method. 

Joe Pilates developed his “Universal Reformer” to a completed design well before he opened his first Pilates Studio in New York City.  In fact Joe travelled to New York from Germany and registered a patent for his invention a year before he emigrated to NY.

How does the Reformer fit into Pilates ?

The Reformer is a huge part of the Method and of Joe’s legacy. Originally Joe’s more portable (hence more profitable) Pilates Mat work was the thing that most people understood as Pilates.  And the Mat work is fundamental to a complete understanding of Pilates. The studio apparatus-based work on the Reformer, Wunda Chair, Trapeze table or Cadillac and Barrels builds on the Mat work but has been less known, less taught, and less understood than Pilates Mat. 

Even 10 years ago there were very few Pilates studios teaching studio style, with Reformers and all the big apparatus, as we do at Turning Tide Pilates, here in NZ. Now we are seeing a blossoming of the method, with many new studios opening, ready to share the transformational power of the Pilates Reformer and much more of the whole Pilates Method approach.

What makes the Pilates Reformer such a potent exercise partner?

On the Reformer we can infinitely refine and define strengthening, stabilising, and stretching or mobilising sequences. A good teacher can adapt the Pilates Reformer repertoire to the individual bodies they are teaching. On the Reformer we challenge the strongest athlete. We bring healing movement to the frail and injured client. We protect weak and damaged areas, including the spine, while building muscle support for that area. We prevent future injuries and rebalance uneven and incorrect muscle activation. We mitigate problems caused by repetitive patterning in high level sports people or desk jockeys. 

Love the Reformer and Exercise lying down !

It’s a thing! Many people fall in love with the Pilates Reformer. They love that the fundamental sequences are performed lying down. They love the gentle noise of the springs and using the rhythm of their breath to dictate the speed and flow of the movement. They love the way the springs challenge both aspects of a movement, the push and the pull, the eccentric and the concentric, the in and the out. They love the way they can focus and be fully present for their workout. It’s different when we are self-aware and bringing powerful mental inquiry and awareness to our fitness regime. The Reformer allows us to really feel and focus, within movements and re-model our movement patterns for the better. 


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