The Reformer is versatile, suitable for almost every client, supportive and yet challenging. It’s fun to use and gives fantastic results.
Structure of the Reformer
The Reformer consists of a wooden or metal frame that holds a sliding carriage. At one end is a stable, adjustable footbar; at the other is a pair of pulleys that hold leather straps or ropes. The carriage has a headrest that adjusts up and down, and two padded shoulder-rests with handles. The carriage is attached to the footbar end of the Reformer with (traditionally) four or (more recently) five springs.
The Reformer also has a rectangular box that can be placed on the carriage either lengthways, when it is called the Long Box, or widthways, for the Short Box exercises.
Using the Reformer
Exercises are performed in three main ways: by pulling on the straps (either with hands or feet), by pushing against the footbar (with hands or feet), or by using the height of the Reformer and box to perform full-body exercises.
In Footwork, the first exercise series on the Reformer, the student lies on the carriage with feet placed on the footbar in one of three positions – on the toes in Pilates stance, on the arches with feet together, and on the heels. Using up to four springs, the student presses the carriage out, straightening the legs, and then controls its return. Footwork trains the legs to work in balance, using the gluteal and inner thigh muscles as well as the quadriceps, and it helps to wake up the Powerhouse as the abdominal muscles scoop in and up.
In the Hundred, the student takes the same position as the Hundred on the mat – upper body curled forward, legs reaching out at an angle, and arms by sides – but with the added element of holding the straps. The spring resistance makes the abdominals work harder to hold the torso up, and it challenges the stability and strength of the shoulder girdle.
In the Hug, the student sits on the Short Box with feet hooked securely under a strap. Using the abdominal and gluteal muscles, the student curls the body back and forth, limbering the spine and strengthening the core. The height of the box allows advanced students to curl all the way back into a full backbend before rolling back up, creating significant strength and control.
In Knee Stretches, the student kneels on the carriage with hands on the footbar, heels pressed against the shoulder rests. Keeping the body still and moving from hips and knees, he moves the carriage in and out with a dynamic, vigorous rhythm. This exercise is performed in a series of three positions: Round, with the back curled in full flexion, Arched, with the spine extended and head looking forward, and Knees Off, with a round back and knees hovering a few inches above the carriage.
The Reformer Truly Changes the Body
With its wide variety of exercises, ranging from highly supported beginner movements to advanced gymnastic exercises, the Reformer is a great apparatus for organising the way the body moves and transforming it into a strong, flexible Pilates body!