Should you go for a Pilates Reformer Class or a Pilates Mat Class?

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Pilates Blog

In Pilates practice, there are a number of pieces of equipment that an instructor has at their disposal. This is to vary participants’ experience of the discipline and to give them a good workout. These pieces of equipment are, for example, the reformer, exercise ball, Cadillac and theraband. Items such as the theraband and exercise ball will mostly be used in a Pilates mat class. The reformer and Cadillac will usually be used in a private Pilates studio as these are quite large pieces of equipment. Some gyms have decided to offer group classes where there are about 15 reformers in a class and the instructor takes participants through a number of sequences.

You will probably be wondering what the difference is between a Pilates mat class and a reformer class is as well as which one you should go for. In this article, we’ll give you an insight into both modalities of Pilates so that you can make an informed decision about type of class to choose.

Pilates is all about control

Joseph Pilates, who is widely recognised as the father of Pilates, called this exercise modality Contrology. The reason for this is that every single Pilates movement must be done with the utmost control. The more reps you do of an exercise doesn’t matter. The form that you adopt when you do these exercises matters more so. Rather do 10 reps of a particular movement, while activating all the right muscles, as opposed to 30 reps without checking your form.

The Pilates reformer

The reformer, in Pilates, looks like a bed. The larger part of this bed is attached to the smaller part using a number of detachable springs which you can attach/detach depending on the resistance you want to work with. You will perform most of your exercises lying on your back and pushing away,  from the smaller part of the bed, with your legs. Cords are also used to give you an upper body workout. Here is an example of one. [Nadia: Please insert a picture of a Pilates reformer here. You can find one on Shutterstock.]

The reformer is great as it helps you to delineate your movements. In other words, you are confined to the range of motion that the reformer limits you to. This means that you are less likely to have an incorrect form and possibly end up injuring yourself. Also, using the reformer is great for people with balance problems as it grounds you.

The Pilates mat class

Most gyms offer Pilates mat classes. This is a much freer form of Pilates and allows more advanced students the opportunity to modify the exercises according to their fitness levels. However, if you’re a beginning, we strongly suggest that you inform the instructor of this at the beginning of the class so that he or she can keep an eye on you and assist in modifying the exercises should you need to.

For a warm-up in a Pilates mat class, you’ll often perform the seated ball bounce. To perform this exercise:

  • Sit on an exercise ball. Make sure that the size of the ball is correct for you. (To check this, when you sit on the ball, make sure that your knees are at a 90-degree angle to the floor.) Ensure that your feet are hip-distance apart.
  • Breathe in and connect your abdominals. Keep them connected throughout the movement.
  • Bounce on the ball. Make sure that your power comes from your core which includes your back and hip muscles.

Watch this video for a demonstration on how to perform this exercise:

No matter what type of exercise you do – be it using the reformer or taking part in a Pilates mat class – make sure that you enjoy it as you’ll be much likelier to stick with if you like doing it.

Contact Trifocus Fitness Academy

If you love doing Pilates and want to help others feel the benefits of this type of exercise, why not become a Pilates instructor? Trifocus Fitness Academy’s comprehensive Pilates course offers students a solid grounding in Pilates principles so that they can become the best Pilates teacher they can! Learn more here.

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