When it comes to Pilates classes, your mind probably goes to floor exercises performed on a mat. But there's another form of Pilates Classes out there: reformer Pilates.
Pilates workouts are loved by many for their low-impact movements and impressive results for a healthy body and mind. These workouts allow people to tone up, improve posture and lose inches in gentle, slow movements.
If you're heading to a group reformer pilates class, though, it can feel a little intimidating, but you'll go in stronger knowing these 16 facts.
1. You'll Use a Reformer
A reformer is a piece of equipment, and you'll be using one during your group workout. The reformer moves in a similar way to a rowing machine, in that it consists of a large horizontal plate, or carriage, that moves back and forth on a track.
Attached to the carriage is a headrest and two shoulder blocks, which help to keep you in position through a movement.
One end of the reformer contains an adjustable bar for resting your feet or hands and adjustable springs that tailor the impact of your workout.
The strap and pulley mechanism attaches to the other end of the reformer, giving you an added element of resistance.
2. Wear Figure-Hugging Workout Gear
Did you know that the type of clothing you wear to your Pilates classes can affect your workout? Form-fitting clothing will keep you from getting injured during Pilates classes. Baggy workout pants can become trip hazards, or get in the way as you work through your movements.
Baggy shirts and sweaters can get caught in the equipment, making for an uncomfortable session.
But something you might not realize is, the seams in figure-hugging workout gear like leggings and tank tops can actually help improve your form. The seam lines can show your Pilates instructor movements you need to improve, and any adjustments you should make.
3. Reformers Add Resistance
Resistance exercises are when you use force to push or pull against a greater weight than your muscles are used to. Adding resistance to a workout is important because it increases your muscle strength and density.
Mat-based Pilates classes add resistance using bodyweight movements. Adding a reformer into the mix means you'll be getting muscle-strengthening benefits a mat-based class can't offer.
The spring, gear and pulley mechanisms all allow for additional force to be mobilized through your workout. As you get used to the movements, you'll naturally increase the amount of resistance your reformer machine offers.
4. You'll Get Stronger
If you're sick of being the one who constantly has to ask for help unscrewing a jar lid, or hauling boxes, then group reformer Pilates classes will help! Pilates classes will help improve your muscle density and strength, without adding bulk.
Dense muscles are made up of muscle fibers and are different to the bulky muscles you'd expect on a bodybuilder. Actually, muscles with a higher density, though smaller, are often stronger than larger ones – not what you'd expect, right?
The moderate levels of resistance using the reformer machine and your own bodyweight, along with the micro-movements in Pilates classes, will work your muscles close to failure.
While that sounds bad, it's not. You know when you just can't hold a movement a moment longer? That means you're breaking the existing muscle fibers so they can repair and get stronger.
Each time you work your muscles to failure, they'll be in the cycle of break-and-repair, resulting in a strong and for you.
5. You'll Burn Calories After Your Workout
The is a real and exciting part of resistance training. We all know that we burn calories when we exercise, but the right kind of exercise will burn calories long afterward, too.
The afterburn effect is when your body ramps up fat-burning after a workout. The key to gaining the effects of this exciting phenomenon, though, is the intensity of your workout.
Mat-based Pilates certainly offers an intense workout, and the better your form and familiarity with each exercise, the more strenuous your experience will be.
When you go in for reformer Pilates classes, however, the intensity of your workout will automatically increase. There are so many variables possible with a reformer machine, and your instructor will be able to adjust the settings to make your session even more effective.
When you increase the effort put into your workout, your body will reward you by burning more fat after it.
6. You'll Increase Your Metabolism
If you've ever wondered how some people can eat so much, and not seem to gain an ounce, you can put it down to their having a really good metabolism. That's great for them, but did you know that you can achieve a good metabolism too?
The key to having a great metabolism is increased muscle density. Muscle is seriously important, not just because it helps you lift heavy things, but it silently works in the background, even when you're lounging around watching TV.
Muscle burns calories. So, when you're at rest, doing nothing, the more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn.
And when you are working out at your reformer Pilates classes, your muscles will be engaged, so you'll burn more calories when you exercise, too.
7. Your Core Strength and Balance Will Improve
Pilates classes are known for improving posture and balance, but using a reformer machine makes you even more powerful in this regard.
Mat-based Pilates exercised are wonderful, but they lack the variables and instability the reformer adds to your workout. The multiple springs in the reformer mean your body and core is constantly adjusting, working to keep you stable.
These improvements in posture and core stability, thereby improving your overall balance. This is great news if you suffer from aches and pains, , and any other issues related to balance.
Improving your core strength will also help you feel better overall, and will even result in ! On top of all those benefits, a strong core will enable you to maintain your Pilates progress, as you'll automatically engage your muscles through the day.
8. You'll Increase Your Flexibility
Have you ever tried to bend down and touch your toes, only to find you can barely get past your knees? It can happen to anyone. The great thing is, Pilates classes help to correct this issue, so you can bend and stretch with ease.
But when you add a reformer to your workout, those stretch movements are amplified. The pulleys, springs, gears and added resistance will all elongate your stretches and help enhance your range of motion.
Improved flexibility is important because it helps reduce injury, and maintains supple and healthy joints.
9. You Can Bring a Friend
Like we said earlier, walking into your first group reformer Pilates class can be kind of daunting. But the great part is, this is a group exercise, so you can bring a friend with you to make you feel better!
that having a workout buddy actually increases the chances of you exercising, so bringing along a friend can help you feel better in more ways than one.
Having a friend that's following the same exercise routine as you is also a good way to improve your form and movements. You'll be able to share hints and tips outside of your Pilates classes, and help each other ramp up your performance, too.
10. Your Pilates Classes Will Be More Fun
There's nothing worse than getting stuck in a rut in your exercise regime. Doing the same thing over and over again – whatever it is – can make you feel stagnant and bored.
Adding equipment to your workout gives you a new focus and adds some interest to your Pilates classes. Getting to grips with the reformer machine helps change up your routine, and gives you a chance to maximize the incredible effects of Pilates.
And the great thing is, your interest will always be piqued with a reformer workout because it'll never stay the same. As you start to understand the machine and its capabilities, you'll be able to adjust and tailor it to suit your needs.
11. You'll Lose Body Fat
Notice we didn't say weight, here, but fat. Why? Because losing 'weight' can mean losing, not just fat, but the other things that add weight to your body: water, and muscle.
Your water weight can fluctuate throughout the day, due to electrolyte and sodium levels, and hormonal changes. But losing muscle mass is very undesirable, for all the reasons we've mentioned above.
Lower muscle mass and density will result in a slower metabolism and less strength and overall wellbeing.
Reformer Pilates classes add the resistance that helps strengthen your muscles while burning your fat stores. You may even find that, initially, although your clothes fit better, your scale-weight increases by a kilo or two! But that's actually what you want.
Losing inches but gaining muscle means that you've lost fat but kept hold of – and increased – that all-important muscle mass.
12. Pilates is a Full-Body Workout
As the title states, Pilates – whether mat- or reformer-based – is a full-body workout. You'll use both your upper and lower body and all your muscle groups as you move through the exercises.
Using your whole body increases the effectiveness of your workout, but also ensures that nothing gets over- or under-worked. This will ensure a beautifully balanced, well-proportioned figure you'll love.
And full-body workouts , too.
13. You'll Get Tailored Form Tips
When you head into your first group reformer Pilates class, you won't know what to do, but that's okay. Your instructor will be there guiding you through each exercise and helping you every step of the way.
Your will show you exactly how the reformer works, and how to move through an exercise without strain or injury.
As you get more acquainted with the machine, your instructor will show you specific ways to improve and get the full benefit of an exercise. And throughout the session, your instructor will give tips to the group, which will help with your overall improvement.
14. Your Body Shape May Change
This point is linked to #11 because by gaining muscle density and losing body fat, your body will start to look different. This process is called .
Body recomposition is the goal of anyone who exercises – it's the art of losing fat, and then maintaining a healthy muscle-to-fat ratio.
The resulting change in body shape may mean that your legs are strong and more toned, your waist is smaller, and your glutes are firm and lifted.
Whether you're male or female, a toned, strong and supple body is what we're all after, and reformer Pilates classes will do just that.
15. You'll Want to Practice Pilates at Least 3 Times a Week
To gain the full benefits of a Pilates workout, you'll need to make it a regular part of your routine.
Mat-based Pilates is gentle on the body and is suitable to be practiced every day if you choose. Reformer Pilates is more intense and works your muscles harder, so you'll want to leave at least a day of rest in-between.
A combination of mat- and reformer-based Pilates through the week will give you a varied workout and help you experience the exercise the way Mr. Joseph Pilates intended.
16. Your Attitude Will Make All the Difference
You'll get so much more out of your Pilates classes if you think these two things: I can do this, and, I want to do this.
Having both the desire and drive will make your group Reformer Pilates class a success. Sure, you might be nervous, and you may feel that the exercises may be hard. And that's okay.
Rest assured that, though an exercise may be difficult, your instructor will be there to help you at every stage. As long as you have the will to succeed, then you will succeed. It's as simple as that. And at Pilatique we're here to help you achieve your goals.
The Bottom Line On Group Reformer Pilates Classes
Pilates is a wonderful workout for your body, and build long, strong, flexible muscles with low impact. Adding a reformer to your Pilates experience won't just give you these same benefits, but will enhance their effect.
Unlike mat workouts, group reformer classes use a piece of equipment with several functions. This will allow you to add a layer of resistance to many of your movements, and gain that coveted muscle tone that'll ramp up your metabolism.
By intensifying the Pilates mat workout, a reformer Pilates workout will help you take your workout – and body – to the next level.
Are you still waiting to take the plunge and try out a group reformer Pilates class? Then why not to find out more.