Reformer Pilates is a full-body exercise that strengthens, tones and improves posture. Using the specialised machine, a trainer leads an all-levels class, targeting small stabilising muscles as well as major muscle groups.
Unlike the quick movements and high intensity of sprint training or Tabata workouts, reformer pilates classes are slow and controlled. This may feel strange for a newbie, but over time it helps build body awareness and can help you move through everyday activities with better control.
The equipment itself consists of a flat, cushioned moving carriage with shoulder blocks and a back platform that hides the springs and sometimes a set of adjustable bars. At either end of the carriage are two sets of springs, and you can adjust the tension by changing them. The springs are typically color-coded and you can have one or more at a time attached to the carriage or straps to vary the resistance of an exercise.
While the low-impact nature of reformer pilates makes it suitable for anyone, including those with preexisting spinal conditions, Heidari warns that “if you’re not used to working in this slow range of motion, you may be surprised at how challenging a few sessions can be.” She recommends finding an instructor who is familiar with accommodating all levels and taking it slowly while getting accustomed to the movement.
Reformer Pilates is a great workout for runners, as the movements help to improve balance and alignment, which can lead to stronger running performance and less injury. It also develops core strength, which is particularly important in running as it can reduce the risk of injuries and increase the efficiency of the torso and pelvis in terms of generating power and propelling the legs.
Runners who use the machine to train can also benefit from its ability to lengthen and strengthen the hip, thigh and knee joints. This can help to prevent injury and pain and boost performance, as it allows for greater range of motion in the hips, ankles and knees.
It’s an Integrative Workout
Heidari, who runs a Club Pilates franchise, says that the reformer is ideal for creating a complete, whole-body workout and can also be used to rehab injured areas. It’s an especially effective form of exercise for people with back issues, as the machine helps support the spine and prevent it from being compressed during exercises like squats and lunges.
As you get more confident using the reformer and moving through beginner exercises, your trainer will start to introduce more advanced moves that can challenge the whole body. You know you’re ready for this when you can maintain a slow pace and keep your balance even while moving your arms and legs. In addition, research continues to show that the steady breath work involved in reformer pilates can reduce stress hormones and increase feel-good chemicals, boosting your mood. This can make a big difference for runners, who often experience mental fatigue from training.