Most people are familiar with the Reformer. You see it now in gyms, group classes and there are studios that only do Reformer classes. Joseph Pilates called it The Universal Reformer. He said it would reform your body! Last year at the PMA Conference I loved seeing the ads that were created to announce and show this piece of equipment. Benjamin Degenhardt did a wonderful workshop on the Reformer and the history of it all.
This lovely piece of his apparatus is also one that he had a set order to the exercises, as in the Mat work. So, you built up to each exercise in regard to the body and the warming it up, using the muscles properly to prepare for the next exercise, just as in the Mat work.
Let's take a look at the apparatus first.
The reformer has a carriage that moves back and forth using springs and the tension to work and stretch the body. it has a headrest for your head, shoulder rests, a footbar that you can use for the feet or hands and ropes that you can hold or put on your feet and legs.
In some ways the Reformer takes the mat work and gives the body some feedback, some resistance to guide the body to the work. You can also think of your body as the springs and you are using the resistance to uncoil and lengthen. Take for example The Hundred. The move is the same as the mat but now you are holding the straps and there is spring that is pulling you back and down as you are curling and reaching forward. You can feel the abdominals firing as they try to keep you in position and the arms pumping with the resistance as well make the triceps and the lats as they pump with the resistance of the straps and spring.
The Reformer is also where you can see really well what happens with the alignment from the foot all the way up to the pelvis. The Footwork is such a good tool for seeing what is going on in this respect. A lot of aches and pains in our hips, back, or knees can be helped by working properly through our feet. Do we roll in? roll out? Are our feet rotating as we walk?
There are so many positions on this little carriage you can sit, kneel, stand, lie down. and face every which way. There are also many different types of Reformers out there now. Low to the ground, a bit higher for rehab purposes, and those designed differently for some group classes.
The Reformer is great for getting some feedback in your body with the movement of the carriage and keeping stability while moving. It has some very advanced exercises for the fearless and athletic to getting to the nitty gritty of how your body moves.
Joseph knew this would Reform your body and once you get on and work with the spring as it lengthens and shortens you find that yes, he was right!