- Custom Weight Loss Program – Pilates
A Pilates Reformer can look a little intimidating at first glance, with its gears, straps, pulleys and springs, it appears medieval and menacing. The Pilates Reformer provides a finely tuned resistance that allows you to work on core strength, precise alignment, and all of the Pilates exercise principles. If you are planning on purchasing a Reformer or taking a Reformer Pilates class, you might feel more comfortable if you learn the basic parts and functions of the reformer.
A Pilates workout is an excellent addition to your weight loss program. It continues to attract everyone from Hollywood stars to grandmas and housewives; it promises core strength, lean muscle tone and flexibility. As Pilates moves from the realm of the professional dancers’ conditioning routine to a mainstream workout, many beginners are wondering if they should roll out a mat or strap into a reformer for the best Pilates workout.
What is the difference between Reformer Pilates and Mat Pilates?
The Pilates Reformer workout and the Pilates Mat workout both offer similar results and the one you choose will provide you with all the benefits Pilates exercises have to offer. To help you decide which is right for you, we’ll give you a brief description of each.
Classical Pilates comprises 500 different exercises which use resistance to strengthen and train the body’s “powerhouse” or core – the lower back, abdomen, hips and buttocks. You can achieve the necessary resistance for effective Pilates movements by using either a mat, where your own body weight will create the resistance, or by using a Pilates Reformer, where pulleys and springs create the resistance for you.
Many instructors and experts recommend beginners start with mat Pilates before trying to incorporate any Pilates equipment into their workout. Mari Winsor, the founder of Winsor Pilates, agrees. “Mat work is a great option for beginners because of its emphasis on learning how to control your muscles during exercises,” she says. “The work is too specific to be done in a group reformer class. You need to be watched like a hawk in the beginning.” Most students will typically be ready to add a reformer to their workout after about three months of Pilates exercises. One of the advantages of mat Pilates is its availability; no equipment is needed, so it is often offered even where no studio is available. Pilates mat work can also be done easily and conveniently in the comfort of your own home. There are many excellent Pilates DVD programs that can provide instruction for any level.
Mari Winsor recommends advanced Pilates mat classes for students looking for something more challenging than the intermediate mat level or reformer workout. “Advanced mat classes are the hardest because you’re using your body all the time. The reformer isn’t assisting or supporting you,” she says.
The Piltates Reformer looks like a single bed frame with a sliding carriage. It has adjustable springs to regulate resistance and tension. Cables, straps, pulleys and bars allow exercises to be performed in a variety of positions, even standing.
Many students start with several months of private instruction before joining a group reformer class. In fact, many facilities require a series of private reformer sessions before you can participate in a group class.
The resistance created by the spring and pulley system can be more challenging than a workout in a mat class. It can also produce visible results sooner, arms, legs, and abdominal muscles can look firmer and more defined within a 12 to 15 regular sessions.
There are several affordable Pilates Reformers designed for home use; some models come with a Pilates Reformer instructional DVD which is led by a certified Pilates instructor.
The many attachments that are part of the reformer help to increase the range of modifications that you can make to the Pilates exercises; they also allow additional exercises beyond what can be done on a mat. This capability, combined with the additional support and resistance the machine provides, allows many people with limited range of movement or injuries to safely practice modified Pilates exercises.
Can’t decide if the Pilates Reformer is right for you?
If you’re having a hard time deciding between mat or reformer work, Mari Winsor says, “Both forms will teach you how to use your powerhouse, make performing daily activities and sports easier, and tone your body along the way.” There’s no need to agonize over your decision, either approach will reap similar benefits.
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