The raising popularity of Reformer Pilates is no coincidence. The benefits of Reformer Pilates range from toning, better posture and injury rehabilitation. That’s not to say though that there are no limitations.
In this article I will cover the biggest pros and cons of reformer pilates to help you decide if it is the right form of exercise for you.
5 Reasons to start Reformer
Addresses strength and flexibility at the same time
Strength and flexibility are often perceived as a zero-sum game. The reformer machine allows us to stretch our muscles through a big range of movement, while contracting the opposing muscles when the resistance of the springs resist the movement (eccentric phase). In this instance the body is getting stronger and more flexible at the same time.
When the resistance assists the movement we are able to achieve a deeper stretch than otherwise.
Accommodates 90% of all rehabilitation programs
While other forms of body weight exercise are limited in accommodating a rehabilitation program, in a reformer we can perform most exercises suggested by physiotherapists and osteopaths. Of course an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so anyone with sensitivity in joints will benefit immensely by practicing reformer prior to the injury becoming acute or chronic.
Strengthens the big muscles
It is no secrete that yoga and mat pilates are limited in regards to how strong they can make one’s body. This is particularly true for the lower body and back muscles, or let’s say in general the big muscles (including the glutes). So if you are allergic to lifting weights or the gym environment, the reformer machine can help you get strong.
Isolate supportive muscles
Gluteus minimus and rotator cuff are 2 groups of muscles that help us stabilise hips and shoulder joints respectively. The reformer allows us to target these muscles and reduce the chance of an injury.
Dissociate body parts
When performing compound movements (ie. running, weightlifting, yoga) our body will utilise the muscles it’s most comfortable recruiting. While for the most part this is normal and safe when someone has signifiant imbalances this can cause the imbalances to get more pronounced and potentially cause injury. Two areas of the body which can dissociate and coordinate when practicing reformer are: our Core + Legs: when performing flexibility exercises for our lower body
and the Core + Arms: when strengthening our upper limbs.
3 Drawbacks of Reformer Pilates
A poor form of cardiovascular training
Although the speed of a reformer class can vary, it is unlikely that it will keep HR elevated for prolonged periods. To the extent that you don’t treat reformer as cardio that’s fine.
Proper execution requires concentration
While this holds true for all forms of exercise it is particularly relevant in Reformer Pilates as, the postural alignment needed in combination with the use of the springs, straps and carriage can be a lot for those starting out.
More exclusive than other forms of training
Reformer machines are not cheap and due to the specific training instructors have to undergo, there are not many available. Both factors make Reformer Pilates classes exclusive.