This is an article we wrote for the "Neighbors of Four Points" magazine. We thought the rest of you might enjoy it as well!
Judging by the nose prints on the windows, people walking by Zenergy Pilates at the Oasis are curious about the strange looking equipment visible through the front windows. If you’ve never seen a Pilates Reformer before, it looks like a cross between a leg press machine and a medieval torture device. The reality is it’s neither – it’s a unique and innovative piece of exercise apparatus unlike any other you might have seen. It’s called a “Reformer” because it can literally “Re-Form” your body.
Instead of having pulleys and weights like a machine you would see in a gym, the Pilates Reformer utilizes springs of different tensions. There is a carriage that glides back and forth on small wheels, shoulder blocks, a headrest, a footbar, and straps with loops or handles that are used in certain exercises. The combination of a moving platform, with springs providing resistance and/or support, and straps in which you might put your hands or your feet, give you a very different experience.
The springs on the Pilates Reformer are truly magical. They do provide resistance which builds muscle, but they also elongate and lengthen your spine, decompressing the discs, and helping to counteract the effects of gravity. Unlike weight machines, which target only certain muscle groups at one time, the Reformer works your entire body at once with dynamic movement. The Reformer stretches and lengthens your muscles while you’re working out, so that you’re improving your flexibility while building strength. The overall effect is that rather than feeling sore and fatigued, you feel invigorated and enlivened.
Compared to yoga or mat Pilates, the Pilates Reformer helps you feel safe & supported. The straps & springs provide just enough support to enable you to try new exercises, building confidence and skill. They train your body with proper muscle firing patterns that you can then translate into a less supported environment on the mat.
On the other hand, the Pilates Reformer can challenge you by taking an exercise you might do on a mat, such as a plank, and performing it on a moving, unstable surface. Imagine performing a runner’s lunge while standing on a surface that moves in and out. A little scary at first, but definitely effective in working your deep stabilization muscles to improve balance and body control!
Most of us have habitual postures that over time cause misalignment and compensations. The Pilates Reformer helps reveal these imbalances, then works to address them. You might discover one side of your body is significantly weaker than the other, or that the muscles on the front side of your body overpower those on the back side. The Pilates Reformer encourages proper alignment of your spine, hips, and shoulders, and promotes more symmetrical muscle development.
The springs and straps on the Reformer provide information and feedback to your muscles in a unique way, translating into more effective and efficient movement patterns that carry over into your everyday activities, sports and hobbies. If you’re looking for a way to improve your strength, stability, and stamina, give the Pilates Reformer a test drive.