Reformer pilates classes offer a safe and effective full-body workout for beginners to advanced practitioners. Using spring resistance, leverage and body weight, Pilates helps to build strength, improve posture, coordination, balance and flexibility. With a wide range of classes, including cardio and circuit versions, there’s a reformer class to suit almost every ability level.
Reformer classes are great for beginners because they offer a safe and controlled environment, with instructors helping to guide the body through each exercise. The equipment is highly adjustable, and instructors can provide varying degrees of difficulty for each exercise. For example, the foot bar and straps can be adjusted to change the intensity of a workout. The carriage can also be raised and lowered, providing different height options for exercises.
A beginner may have some initial soreness following a reformer class, but this can be relieved by stretching on the mat in between workouts and by paying attention to how the Pilates moves feel during daily activities, such as walking, sitting down, standing up, or bending over to tie their shoes. This type of muscle awareness can help to prevent injury in the future, as it trains the body to move through each movement with a strong foundation.
When stepping into your first reformer class, it’s important to be mindful of the instructor’s instructions and watch for other students to get a sense of what to do. Elizabeth Heidari, a NASM-certified personal trainer and certified Pilates instructor, says it’s OK to glance around and check out your neighbor for a moment, but it’s more beneficial to listen to the instructor and then try things on your own. This way, if you’re confused or not sure how to get into a pose, you can look at your fellow class participants and then check with the instructor before trying again.
Another consideration when starting your reformer practice is the spring resistance of the machine. Heidari notes that the springs can be changed to increase or decrease the challenge of a Pilates exercise, and that newbies should start with lighter springs until they become more comfortable and then gradually move up in strength and tension. Heavier springs may require more focus and concentration, while lighter springs may cause the student to work more in their core to control the carriage, which adds a different kind of challenge.
Some studios, like the Ten Fitness locations throughout London, have dedicated Reformer classes that cater to all levels of experience, with beginner-focused sessions and more intensive offerings for those who want to hone their skills. The classes also offer modifications to make the exercises accessible to people with injuries and limitations. For instance, a class called Jumpboard incorporates high-intensity jumping sequences with classic reformer repertoire to create a fun and challenging cardio and strength workout. Other classes focus on working the core in a more traditional manner. It is important to find a class that matches your ability, as it will not only prevent injury but also help you see results faster.