If you have not had the opportunity to train on a Pilates Reformer (apparatus), it might be time to add this training tool and modality into your macro exercise program. Joseph Pilates designed the reformer originally in the latter part of World War I when working as an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man. He was working with patients who were unable to walk and, to address this issue, he attached springs to the hospital beds to provide an environment which allowed these patients to strengthen and begin rehabilitation in their beds. This “bed” eventually became the “Cadillac” apparatus, variations of which are still utilized widely today in health and fitness settings.
When he and his wife immigrated to the United States in the 1920’s, they opened their own “body-conditioning gym” in New York. His rehabilitative training continued and eventually, many in the dance community began to seek out his expertise to improve their technique, through strengthening and lengthening as well as rehabilitating injuries.
And, while no one piece of equipment or training modality may address all five physical fitness components, the Pilates Reformer may provide the body with benefits that other equipment or training modalities may not offer. The Pilates Reformer consists of a carriage which moves back and forth along tracks within its frame and the resistance is provided by the client’s body weight and the springs which are attached to the carriage and the platform.
This allows the trainer to teach the client a plethora of exercises (hundreds actually) which focus upon strengthening and lengthening, in a non-impact setting, adjusting the “load” according to the demands of the exercise and movement pattern, and modified to fit the capability level of the specific client. Clients may be trained in personal training or small group settings on the reformer to provide the level of supervision generally suggested to safely and effective work on this equipment.
Everyone from the novice exerciser to the elite athlete may benefit from reformer training. For the novice, there is definitely a learning curve, but with an experienced trainer, this initial curve is quickly diminished and the fluidity and continuity of the training sessions begin to improve. When training an elite athlete, the foundational components of the program allow the sessions to steadily progress, creating improved balance, stability, strength, flexibility and performance of movement patterns that complement their respective sports.
Our training experience with the reformer has been excellent. Those with shoulder, back, hip, knee and ankle mobility and pain issues, often experience relief through the movement patterns performed on the apparatus followed by improvement of their general body strength, mobility and stability. The body awareness elements are significant as well. Clients become more kinesthetically astute which translates into more efficient movement patterns on and off the reformer.
There are other apparatus as well such as the High/Low Chair and Spine Corrector which may be utilized in conjunction with the reformer; however, the reformer and a mat tend to achieve excellent results. In conclusion, consult your certified, experienced fitness professional and inquire into their Pilates Apparatus Program to determine if it would be a good fit for you.