Can Beginners Do Reformer Pilates? Tips For First Timers!

Posted by on Sep 29, 2021 in Pilates Exercises

Can Beginners Do Reformer Pilates? Tips For First Timers!

Many of us think that Pilates Reformer is only for experienced Pilates practitioners. Unlike common fitness equipment, this unique-looking machine that you can only find in Pilates studios is not easy to figure out how to use, especially if you have no experience in Pilates exercises. Beginners can do Reformer Pilates. Most Reformer exercises can be modified to suit a beginner level with the guide of a Pilates teacher. Make sure that you are attending a beginner-level session if you are planning to attend a Pilates Reformer group class, as there can be some advanced-level classes that will be too fast-paced for beginners. The challenge with the Reformer Pilates is not about the intensity of the exercises done on it, nor do you need to be on an intermediate level in order to use it. In fact, I use the Reformer machine to do rehab with my clients and for complete beginners.  However, the complexity of using the Reformer is the main obstacle for first-time users on the machine. You will need guidance on the basic parts of the Reformer Pilates and the fundamental exercises that can be done on it. So the key ingredient is to attend a beginner’s class for the Reformer or get a good Pilates teacher to guide you with the movement. Here are a few things that you need to know before attending your first Reformer Pilates Class! Anti-slip socks are great for Reformer exercises Reformer Pilates exercises require you to be in different positions where you need to push with your legs while lying down on the machine or stabilize yourself while you are standing on it. This can be slippery, especially if your feet tend to sweat or if you are wearing a normal pair of socks.  A pair of socks with a rubberized sole is a good solution for this. There are different brands available on the market, and some can be quite pricey for a pair of socks. They all serve the purpose of keeping you more stable during the exercise. Let the teacher know that you’re a beginner This is not needed if you are attending a beginner Reformer class, but there are some classes that are multi-level, and you need to inform the Pilates instructor that it is your first time doing the class so the teacher can keep an eye on you during the class. Coming to the class 10 minutes earlier will also help so you can get familiar with the place and if allowed, you can go to the Reformer machine and get familiar with how it looks and feel. Some studios may allow you to just sit on it and do your own safe exploration before the class.  This is also a good time to talk to your Pilates teacher or to other attendees to make yourself comfortable. It can be easier than Pilates...

Read More »

6 Ways To Increase Intensity of Your Pilates Exercise!

Posted by on Sep 21, 2021 in Pilates Exercises

6 Ways To Increase Intensity of Your Pilates Exercise!

  Doing Pilates exercise can be deceivingly simple, especially when you are doing it only on the mat as it only involves your own body. You may think that using some small apparatus is the only way to make these exercises more challenging. The Intensity of a Pilates exercise can be increased by going slower with the movement, doing pulses at the end of the range, focusing on contracting your muscles more,  lesser rest between exercises, adjusting the angle of the legs or arms, and working on a proper technique. You can either do one or combine a few ways to intensify your Pilates exercises. These techniques apply to most of the exercises whether you are using the Pilates equipment or mat. Slow down the movement Decreasing the speed of your movement will increase the amount of time your muscles contract; thus, it will have to work more with the same number of repetitions. As a general rule, the bigger muscles will do the work to complete the task when you move faster. But when you do it slower, since the bigger muscles will fatigue faster, the body will recruit the smaller muscle groups to help you get through the movement.  This will make the exercise more challenging and complete as you will strengthen both bigger (fast-twitch) and smaller (slow-twitch) muscles. Slowing down the speed of the movement can be applied to almost all Pilates movement. Moving small range movement or pulses Another way to work harder is you find where the angle that is the most challenging and stay on that angle. You can either just hold the position or do very small 2 to 4 inches of pulsing movement.  This will make the exercise very challenging and effective in strengthening your full range. A good example will be the Pilates Roll up; the most challenging angle of this exercise is when you are about to touch your lower back on the mat. Stay on that angle and do a small up and down movement without resting on the mat and without coming too high either. You will feel a strong burn in your abdominal muscles even doing lesser repetitions of the same movement. Learn how to control the muscles This is a little tricky one. Most beginners in Pilates practice will either find the exercises too challenging or too easy. One reason why most of them find it too easy is not knowing how to engage the correct muscles. It is a good practice to learn how to engage the individual muscles of the exercise by touching them firmly or giving them a firm push so you will feel them contracting. The more you feel the muscles, the better you can control them when you do the movement. I have realized with Pilates that the basic exercises have become harder for me as I practice throughout the...

Read More »

Is Pilates Reformer Harder Than Pilates Mat?!

Posted by on Sep 20, 2021 in Pilates Benefits

Is Pilates Reformer Harder Than Pilates Mat?!

Planning to attend your first Reformer Pilates class can be quite daunting. The machine doesn’t look like common fitness equipment. It has a moving carriage, straps attached to it, and uses springs as resistance. The moves you see on social media make you think that the Reformer exercises are only meant for advanced practitioners. And you may think that Pilates mat is your only option as a first-timer. There are exercises on the Pilates Reformer that are easier than Pilates mat, and there are also more challenging exercises. The Reformer machine is designed so that the springs can either assist or challenge the actual movement.  Let me explain how the Reformer machine makes the exercises easier or harder than mat Pilates. Pilates Mat and Reformer Comparison Pilates MatPilates ReformerMovement ComplexityLess complex as you only have your body to deal withMore complex as it involves the equipment set upConvenienceYou can do it anywhereYou need a Pilates Studio to practice or buy your Reformer machineVarietyLimited varietyMore varietyAssistanceYou have to rely on your own strengthThe straps, the foot bar, and other parts of the machine can give you assistance to your exercisesFeedback and awarenessNo feedback except the floor and matThe setup of the Reformer is a good added feedback to increase your awareness with you the exercises.Range of motionLimited range depending on your mobilityWider range because of the straps and elevated platformStabilityVery stableHarder when the carriage has very low spring supportResistanceDepends on your body weightIt can be controlled by adjusting the springsEasier to mountHarder for older people and those with back and knee injuries.Easier to mountIntensity range from 1 to 10 (1 = easiest and 10 = hardest)Between 3 to 8 intensityFrom 1 to 10 intensity What is a Pilates Reformer? Let me describe to you briefly what a Pilates Reformer is before we go on with the topic. This machine has the size smaller than a single bed with half of its length is covered by a moving carriage that can move horizontally. The springs are attached from the front of the frame to the front of the carriage, making it return to the front all the time. The back of the carriage has a headrest that can be raised up and down, and it has a pair of shoulder pads. The carriage is connected to the back of the frame by a pair of straps looped in a pulley system. You can do a lot of things on the Reformer. Here is an article I wrote about the different positions you can be in on the machine. What is Pilates Mat? Pilates mat exercises are movements on the mat to work your whole body without using any equipment. Originally, there is a 34 exercise list that was written by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s for the purpose of giving us a daily routine to move better as we age....

Read More »

How Do You Really Get Better At Pilates Reformer Exercises!?

Posted by on Sep 18, 2021 in Pilates Exercises

How Do You Really Get Better At Pilates Reformer Exercises!?

The Pilates Reformer exercises are unique, and they are hard to replicate without the machine. The combination of the springs, the moving carriage, and how you position your body on the Reformer gives you a very different experience with the movement. But because of this complexity, it can be overwhelming to understand the exercises even after several sessions.  After teaching Pilates for more than 20 years, I found a few things that work very well for my students to help them understand the exercises on the Pilates Reformer. These are the six things you need to do in order for you to get better with the Reformer exercises: Understand how to properly align your bodyImprove your awareness without the Reformer machineAdjust the resistance or the intensity of the exerciseMove slow and with purposeCoordinate the movement with the breathingBreakdown the movement into small components I will explain to you one by one, so you will understand better what I mean. 1. Understanding proper alignment Pilates Reformer exercises are specifically designed to work on realigning your joints and the way you move.  In the leg and footwork exercises for example, where you push the foot bar while you are lying down in a supine position. It is very important to understand that your toes, knees, and hips are properly aligned as you move back and forth.  Another angle you can look at these same exercises is at the hip and shoulder area. It is quite common for the hips and shoulders to be off-centered as you do the movement, which can compromise the benefit of the exercises. You want to make sure that you are always properly aligned when doing Reformer exercises as you want to reinforce a better posture. Otherwise, you will end up reinforcing a bad alignment. 2. Awareness of the body without the Reformer machine The Pilates Reformer is very effective in improving your flexibility, strength, and awareness. Still, sometimes it can be quite overwhelming, especially when you are new to the machine or learning a new exercise. The best approach to work around this is to take the movement out of the Reformer and do part of the movement in a similar position. Then you can focus more on engaging the right muscles or doing the right sequence. A good example is when you are doing the Seated Rowing exercise, which is a relatively long sequence to memorize. You can improve faster if you do the exercise seated on the floor and work on the arm movement sequence. Then go back to the Reformer once you have developed better awareness of the body in relation to the exercise. 3. Adjust the intensity or resistance Reformer exercises can be quite challenging, and you need to learn how to adjust the intensity of the movement. You will end up compensating if you are struggling too much, which will develop...

Read More »

Pilates: Benefits Of Daily Reformer And Mat Exercises!

Posted by on Sep 17, 2021 in Pilates Benefits

Pilates: Benefits Of Daily Reformer And Mat Exercises!

Once you have experienced a good Pilates session, whether, on the mat or Reformer, you’ll be hooked on it. The after-session sensation that it brings is just very different compared to other exercises you can do in the gym and regular fitness centers. That feeling of tallness, inner strength, improved flexibility, toned-abs, and soreness on the inner muscles that you don’t know existed is very addictive that you want to do the session again the next day. Reformer Pilates exercises can be done daily. In fact, Pilates methodology that was originally founded by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s is low impact, and low repetition type of workout was designed to be done every day to improve your breathing, concentration, alignment, coordination, the flow of movement, and centering.  We know that doing daily exercises is good for us. According to an article from the International Journey of Physical Education, Sports, and Health,  “Exercise not only makes you physically fitter but also improves your overall health and a general sense of well-being. Daily exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, boost happy chemicals, improve self-confidence, increase brainpower, sharpen memory, and increase our muscles and bones strength. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. A minimum of 30 minutes a day can allow you to enjoy these benefits.” Now that we know the benefits of doing regular exercises let us look at the added benefits of doing Pilates Mat and Reformer exercises daily. Improve posture alignment Our posture is greatly influenced by what we do regularly. That means that if you are sitting down hunching on your computer desk the majority of your time, the more your posture will hunch as well. So, if you want to correct your posture, doing a few exercise sessions a week may not be enough to establish a deeper correction.  Doing daily Pilates exercises will boost the correction of your posture as it will correct imbalances and strengthen the inner muscles of your joints and spine to make them stronger in a good alignment. The Pilates Reformer machine will give you better feedback on how to hold your body alignment better which will help you actively correct your posture as you do the exercises. Learn more exercises Since you have more time to do your exercises, you will have more chances of learning new movements which will be an added benefit to your basic routine. The pilates method offers a wide range of exercises that you can do and each movement works differently on your body, so working on more variety of exercises will allow you to aim to more specific goals that you cannot achieve with lesser frequency sessions. Polish your basics and develop a stronger foundation “Perfect practice results in perfect movement” Most people think of exercise as just an exercise rather than a skill to develop and practice. But...

Read More »