There are many pieces of equipment that can be used in Pilates such as the ball, theraband, Cadillac and reformer. These vary in cost: the ball and theraband are relatively inexpensive while the Cadillac and reformer can go for a couple of thousand each. This means that the budget that the Pilates instructor has at their disposal will determine what equipment they have in their studio.
The reformer is a great piece of equipment to use as it’s much more stable than the ball. This makes it great for people who have balance problems to use as it grounds and supports them so that they can concentrate on their form as opposed to making sure that they keep their balance.
Reformer warm-up exercises
There are two warm-up exercises that can be used on the reformer. The first is the pelvic tilt which is used to warm up the following muscle groups:
- Pelvic and leg region.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie supine on the reformer carriage. Your heels must be on the foot bar with your legs parallel and slightly abducted and your feet dorsi flexed. Extend your arms at the side of your body with your palms flat on the reformer.
- Inhale to prepare and keep your abdominal awareness. Lift your torso off the carriage articulating one vertebra at a time.
- Exhale and keep your abdominals strong as well as your glutes contracted. Push the carriage out.
- Inhale and – while maintaining an elevated pelvis – return the carriage to your starting position.
- Exhale and start rolling down, articulating one vertebra at a time, while lowering your pelvis. Start with your lumbar spine and finish with your tailbone.
Perform approximately 10 – 12 reps and have between two and three springs on your reformer.
The second warm-up exercise for the reformer is the footwork series. This series consists of the following exercises:
- Toes Wrapped Around Bar
- Arches on Bar
- Heels on Bar
- Calf stretch.
Toes wrapped around bar
Lying supping on the reformer, with your legs adducted and your knees flexed, wrap your toes around the foot bar. Rest your arms on the carriage of the reformer and extend them at the side of your body with your palms flat. Your lower back is in an imprinted position and the headrest is adjusted in a comfortable position.
Inhale to prepare and exhale. While keep the abdominals strong and connected extend your legs to push the carriage out. Lift the heels up at the same time.
Inhale (while keeping the abdominals strong and connected) flex your knees to return the reformer carriage to your original position.
Arches on bar
This exercise is the same as ‘toes wrapped around bar’ but instead of having your toes wrapped around the foot bar you’ll have the arches of your feet on the foot bar.
Heels on bar
For this exercise, you’ll have your heels on the bar and will perform the same movement as you did in the first exercise of the footwork series.
The calf stretch
This is a wonderful exercise to stretch and strengthen the calves while stabilising and strengthening your abdominals:
- Lie supine on the reformer. Adduct and flex your legs. Wrap your toes around the foot bar. Rest your arms and extend them at the side of the body with your palms flat. Imprint your lower back onto the reformer and adjust your headrest into a comfortable position.
- Inhale and, while keeping your abdominals and glutes strong and connected, extend your legs to push the carriage out. Keep your toes wrapped around your foot bar.
- Exhale and, while keeping your legs extended as well as your abdominals tight and connected, lower your heels under the foot bar until you feel a good stretch.
- While still keeping your abdominals and glutes connected and strong lift your heels.
- Exhale while maintaining your abdominals and gluteus connection as well as you heels being lifted. Flex your legs and return to your starting position.
The reformer is a great exercise to add into your Pilates routine and if your studio offers it you should really try a reformer class. If you do one-on-one Pilates sessions, try to persuade your instructor to incorporate this into your training regimen. Want to become a Pilates instructor yourself? Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Comprehensive Pilates Certification Course will help you achieve this dream! For more information about this and our other online fitness courses, please follow this link.