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...

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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...

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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...

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Pilates Without Reformer: 12 Exercises You Can Do at Home!

Posted by on Sep 13, 2021 in Pilates Exercises

Pilates Without Reformer: 12 Exercises You Can Do at Home!

Doing the exercises on the Pilates Reformer is very effective, interesting, fun, and invigorating at the same time. However, with a busy schedule, attending Pilates Reformer classes may not be as regular as you have wanted it to be. Buying Reformer equipment is not only expensive and impractical as it requires a lot of space, but it also requires deeper knowledge to do the exercises safely on your own. Pilates exercises can be done without the Reformer equipment. All you need is an exercise mat, an elastic band, and a towel to complete a Pilates routine. You will still be able to stretch and strengthen your whole body and at the same time, work with your posture. Let me give you a list of Reformer exercises that you can do at home or anywhere without the need for the Reformer machine. All you need is an exercise mat, a towel or a clean rag, and an elastic band to do these exercises. As for your towel or rag; look for a fabric that slides easily on the floor otherwise, it will not work. It is best if you have already attended Pilates Reformer classes when doing these exercises as you have an idea of how it feels doing them on the machine. However, you can still do them without prior experience.  If you are very new to Pilates, I suggest you should work first on doing the basic Pilates mat exercises to build up your foundation. Here is an article I wrote for my UMove Fitness website about a full-body Pilates routine that you can do at home. If you are not familiar with the Pilates Reformer yet, here is an article you can read about how versatile this equipment is and what positions you can be in to use it. Here are the Reformer exercises that you can do at home: Leg and footwork with bands When you do a classical routine on the Pilates Reformer, the leg and footwork series will be your first set of exercises. It is a good warm-up and at the same time, it works very well on aligning your posture before you proceed to more challenging movements. Here are a few important points to take not before you do these exercises: Keep your pelvis stable when moving your legs in these exercisesWork on both legs evenly as there is a tendency for you to work more on one side.Your shoulders, head, and neck will be off the whole time doing these exercises, so keep your abs engaged and the lower back flat, especially when you are extending the legs forward to protect your spine.You start with your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle and you will straighten your legs forward to a 45-degree angle with all the variationsMake sure that the band is placed securely on your feet as it can...

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How Do You Breathe in Pilates: Why is it Important!

Posted by on Sep 6, 2021 in Pilates Exercises

How Do You Breathe in Pilates: Why is it Important!

One of the things that stand out the very first time I visited a Pilates studio was the sound of the breathing technique. I was attending a Ron Fletcher workshop at that time in the early 2000s, and that is when I got introduced to Pilates breathing. The detailed manner of doing Pilates exercises is already challenging enough and adding the breathing technique can be confusing, but at the same time refreshing in a way, especially if you are new to the method. You breathe in Pilates by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth while bracing your abdominal muscles the whole time. Your ribs will expand to the sides and front on the inhalation, and the ribs will close down and in on the exhalation. Your abdominal muscles will be braced the whole time. Breathing is the first principle Joseph Pilates introduce when he started teaching his work. It makes sense as it is the foundation of every movement when you are practicing Pilates. Let us look further into the breathing technique so you can incorporate it better into your practice. 1. Inhale through your nose According to this article from Cleveland Clinic, three important things will happen when you inhale through your nose. Temperature control, filtering, and humidifying.  As the air goes through our nose, either it is too hot or too cold, our nasal passage will adjust the air temperature that goes in to match our body’s temperature. The hair-like structure inside our nasal cavity will filter small particles from the air that we breathe in, unlike when breathing in through the mouth, which will send unfiltered air to the lungs. The air inside our nasal cavity is very humid, which will humidify the air that comes in through our nose. This humidification will help in extracting oxygen when the air goes to our lungs. It is important that when you are breathing in a Pilates movement, that you have to inhale deeper than you normally would so you will be able to condition your breathing at the same time; this will serve as the timing for your movement. 2. Brace your abdominal muscles One of the main cues that you can hear in a Pilates class is lengthening your spine or posture. This will be achieved by thinking that you’re wearing a tight corset the whole time.  This practice will help you to control the natural corset muscle of your body which is called the Transversus abdominis muscle which is shape like a big belt that is around your waistline. Not only will you look slimmer without losing any weight, but you will also feel a lot taller with your posture at the end of the class. 3. Expand your ribs to the side If you are concentrating well on keeping your abdominal muscles braced the whole time, there is nowhere for the...

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What is Pilates Reformer?

Posted by on Apr 27, 2021 in Pilates Exercises

Pilates Reformer is an excellent workout for the core or what’s also called the body’s powerhouse—the abs, lower back, hips, pelvic floor, and glutes. Reformer exercises are designed to build up strength and muscle tone without bulking you up. Pilates’ movements will help you develop proper body mechanics for better posture and balance and be more flexible and energetic. Reformer Pilates also helps in weight loss, especially when combined with a cardio workout and proper diet. Research shows that Pilates effectively lowers BMI and calorie count and results in a slimmer waist, flatter abs, and leaner hips, too. At Pilates Plus Singapore, Reformer workouts are gaining popularity among those who practice Pilates for weight loss, strength training, and resistance building. Does Pilates Cause Weight Loss? FIND OUT HERE Pilates Reformer Apparatus First things first. While the term “Pilates equipment” is widely accepted within the Pilates community, Joseph Pilates intended for it to be called “Pilates apparatus.” “Pilates machines” isn’t appropriate, especially in Classical Pilates or Traditional Pilates circles. The Reformer was invented in the late 1800s by Joseph Pilates, who sparked the global Pilates movement. It was initially called the Universal Reformer, one of 12 original devices Pilates designed to help soldiers injured in the war. Known also as Universal Reformer, it consists of a bed frame-like platform called the carriage, which is attached to springs and bars. The carriage is padded and has shoulder blocks to keep you from sliding off. It also has an adjustable foot bar for the legs and resistance cables for the arms at the opposite end. When you pull the cables with your arms and push the bars with your legs, your muscles extend to the fullest position, helping you to execute a full range of motion that you usually can’t do on your own or by using a single piece of equipment. Common Pilates Apparatus and Workouts – READ HERE Pilates Reformer Benefits Reformer Pilates workouts are gaining popularity among those who practice Pilates for weight loss. Picture this: if you weigh about 150lbs and you do Pilates for 50 minutes, then you shed about 175 calories. Muscles continue burning off calories even after working out—so the longer you’re at it, the stronger and shapelier you get. Pilates Reformer is also an excellent exercise for males looking to build strength or females who want to improve their physique (and vice-versa). Those who are approaching or are already in their senior years will likewise benefit from the flexibility-enhancing and balance-building workout. According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine (Roller et al., 2017), doing Pilates Reformer once a week for 2 to 3 months can result in reduced risks of falling over. There are also significant improvements in dynamic (moving) and static (standing still) balance and functional mobility among adults 60 years and older. Also, Pilates Reformer is recommended for...

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