What's the Pilates Reformer?

| Fitness

If you are looking to kick your Pilates workout up a gear, then you may have taken a peak at the latest trend out there — the Pilates reformer! This heavy-hitting machine cranks up the intensity for a resistance-based training method intended to target and tone specific muscle groups. While many trainers and experts out there are extolling the wondrous benefits of the Pilates reformer, many practicing enthusiasts have complained that this contraption looks... and feels... like a torture apparatus, and have opted to stick with their mats when it comes to getting their sweat on.

pilates reformer
(Photo: Canyon Physical Therapy)

>> Read more: 15 Pieces of Yoga Equipment and How to Use Them

What's all the hype? Although, like yoga, Pilates is typically regarded as a gentler form of exercise and relaxation, many practicers enjoy the added challenge of incorporating certain machines and equipment into their sessions. The Pilates reformer has gained wide recognition for its vast amount of perceived benefits. Some of these include: (via Livestrong.com)

  • Improved muscular endurance: This machine works to promote increased range of motion through flowing, controlled movements. The resistance provided by the reformer enhances overall strength and helps grow long, lean, muscles.
  • Increased core strength: Pilates in general is renowned for its focus on the core, and this new contraption attempts to fully incorporate your abdominal and back muscles into nearly every move! Each exercise works to stabilize and align your spine through core contractions for a workout that is sure to tone up that tummy.
  • Improved posture: The Pilates reformer stresses perfect posture and alignment through each exercise in order to help build and nurture proper form and technique. Users have claimed that this has actually lengthened their joints, decreased their risk of injury, and given them a taller appearance!
  • Increased flexibility: The machine encourages users to utilize full, flowing movements that improve their full range of motion. This reduces the amount of strain placed on muscles and enhances the body's overall pliancy. Click here to check out our favorite moves for inflexible moms!
  • Improved breathing: The slow, repetitive movements encouraged by this machine help promote even, smooth breathing that will ultimately refine users' lung capacity and efficiency.
  • Reduced body fat: The Pilates reformer works to build muscle mass, which we know is the key to weight loss and fat burn. A heated session on the machine can help crank up the metabolism and kickstart our weight loss goals.

back pain

What are the pitfalls? Sounds like a miracle machine, right? However, like all fitness trends, many experts are cautious when it comes to this new contraption. One of the primary dangers of this machine can be chalked up to inexperience. If you are new to practicing Pilates or using this machine, hopping on and hoping for the best probably isn't a great idea! The Pilates reformer is outfitted with an overwhelming assortment of straps, ropes, cables, pulley systems, and sliding parts that could confuse even the most experienced athlete, so getting to know your way around the machine is absolutely essential! We highly recommend working with an instructor to perfect your form and familiarity with the machine before you attempt any of the exercises on your own.

>> Read more: 3 Machines to Avoid at the Gym

Also keep in mind that the Pilates reformer is considered a higher-intensity alternative to your typical Pilates class. If you go into a session expecting a calming, meditative workout, you may find yourself overwhelmed and overworked. You could discover that you are pushing your body past its physical limitations through some of the exercises, which could increase your risk of injury. Check out these 8 poses to prevent injury by clicking here.

pilates fitness class

The final verdict? The machine may, indeed, enhance your Pilates workout, but many of the proclaimed benefits can be achieved through normal Pilates practice as well. As with all equipment, participants run the risk of over-exerting their muscles, which can lead to excessive soreness or injury. For more information, check out our sources: Gaiam Life,Livestrong.com, and Huffington Post.