Pilates, first developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1900s, has become much more popular with the use of Pilates reformers. Initially created for individuals in rehabilitation programs and hospitals, healthy individuals now use this Pilates machine for a total body workout.
The Benefits of Using a Pilates Reformer
You can use this Pilates machine to exercise almost every muscle group in your body, but some of the main benefits of using it are:
- Alignment correction
If you find yourself slouching a lot and/or have back problems, the machine helps correct alignment issues, which may be causing pain.
- Increases range of motion
Doing exercises on the Pilates reformer helps increase range of motion for peripheral limbs.
- Increase flexibility
Not exercising can make you feel stiff and puts you at risk for injury if you fall. Using the Pilates reformer increases flexibility so you can do more, much more safely.
- Core strength
This machine can build up strength.
- Promote cardiovascular health
You can also get a good cardio workout, which helps fight cardiovascular disease.
Purchasing a Pilates Reformer
As you can see in the picture, this machine lays on the floor with or without pedestals. You can purchase a wood or metal one but most people opt for the metal one because it's more attractive for a home gym. Both come with either leather straps or ropes that you use for pulling or pushing. There's a comfortable crux, which is the platform you sit on to do most of your exercises and a headrest. The most popular Pilate reformers are manufactured by Gratz Pilates, Stott Pilates, Balanced Body and Peak Pilates. You can find a good one between $2000 and $4000 depending on whom you buy it from and the quality of the machine.
How it Works
The Pilates reformer works on a pulley system with the leather straps or ropes. You can do exercises standing, kneeling, sitting, or lying down. Your resistance, which is the main part of the workout, comes from pulling the straps attached to springs along with your own body weight. Four levels of resistance on the machine are adjustable. The green spring is for light resistance and the resistance increases with blue, yellow, and red. A stationary bar is also used for pushing off in some exercises. Once you get started, you will discover virtually endless amounts of exercises you can do to work just about every muscle group in your body.
Working Out at Home with the Pilates Reformer
If you join a class using this machine, you will pretty much follow the lead of the instructor and can ask him or her questions as necessary, but if you want to do your workout at home, you may need some assistance with how to use this machine and the types of exercises you can do. DVDs and the Internet are great resources to assist in creating an at-home exercise program with the Pilates reformer.
Check out this site for a large selection of online videos for exercises using the machine. You can play them repeatedly until you understand them and the best part is that it's free.
The Pilates Advanced Workout DVD (for use with Pilates reformer) is great for people who have used the machine for a while and have worked their way up to an advanced level.
Always check with your physician before you start any new workout routine. As with any new exercises, if a particular movement causes you pain, stop immediately. You need to build up your body to do some of the more intense movements and you could become injured if you do too much too soon. Finally, have fun with the Pilates reformer and congratulations on your way to becoming physically fit!