3 Proven Reformer Pilates Benefits for Your Body and Mind
Pilates has been a beloved form of strength training for over a century (ever since inventor Joseph Hubertus Pilates first introduced the practice in the late 1920s). Typically, pilates has been practiced on mats, but now there’s a new twist in the form of a reformer machine.
Reformer pilates still involves the same low-impact workout routines designed to strengthen your core and improve endurance but with increased strength and muscle targeting.
The table below compares regular pilates and reformer pilates.
|Practiced on a mat||Practiced using a reformer machine|
|Builds pilates techniques and form skills||Adds weight-bearing to traditional pilates techniques|
|Limited exercises compared to reformer pilates||Offers a wider variety of exercises|
Today, you’ll learn:
- The benefits of reformer pilates to your body and mind
- How reformer pilates can help elderly and injured people
- How to safely practice reformer pilates for pregnant women
1 - Improves Core and Posture
Pilates is famously known for targeting and strengthening your body’s “powerhouse” (or core). These are your abs, thighs, buttocks, and back. The targeting happens because pilates requires you to hold your torso in place while moving your limbs in different directions.
Holding your core in place challenges your stability, balance, flexibility, and, ultimately, improves your posture. Having good posture helps with:
- Increased confidence
- Easier breathing
- More energy
- Less frequent headaches
Even though mat pilates works on your core, the reformer machine creates a varied and unique exercise environment. Because the reformer accommodates a full range of motion, you can build strength and flexibility at the same time.
Reformer pilates enhances joint, spinal, and scapular flexibility through exercises like leg circles, chest expansion, the frog, rowing back and forth, and footwork. Additionally, it helps relieve pressure on your legs, hips, and feet by relaxing your shoulders and neck.
A recent study looking into the effects of pilates on balance and posture shows that participants noted an increase in posture alignment after engaging in pilates for two consecutive weeks. The subjects also reported a reduction in musculoskeletal pain.
A second study shows that pilates is effective in correcting forward head posture (FHP) in individuals. Since reformer pilates is an improved version of mat pilates, the same results can be expected in anyone using reformer machines.
2 - Improves Mental Health
Even though it wasn’t invented as a spiritual practice like yoga, reformer pilates still provides mental health benefits. In fact, studies show it positively impacts anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Reformer pilates also helps boost positive emotions.
One of the fundamentals of pilates is breathwork, which helps calm your mind.
“Above all, learn to breathe properly”
- Joseph Pilates
Joseph Pilates himself stressed the importance of breathwork, and it remains an essential activity practiced with reformer pilates.
Reformer pilates reduces anxiety levels by engaging your mind. Exercising on the reformer is neither frenetic nor fast-paced, allowing you to fully engage your mind—distracting you from the stress of the day.
Reformer pilates requires a disconnection from technology during class, allowing you to fully focus on yourself and be present, which calms the mind.
A study done by Pierre Phillopot demonstrated a link between breathing patterns and a person’s emotional state.
During the study, Pierre noted that happy people breathed slowly and more deeply. Whereas angry or sad participants breathed more quickly and shallowly.
Pierre connected the breathing patterns to the corresponding emotions and deduced that a person could mimic positive emotions through deep breathing.
In the same light, reformer pilates helps you focus on steadying your breath, which in turn leads to calmer and happier emotions.
The Malaysian Journal of Movement published a study on the effect of pilates on anxiety and fatigue in a group of 51 women between 18 and 25 years of age. Half of the group agreed to practice pilates for six weeks, while the other half did not.
For the group that practiced in pilates within the six weeks, there was a decrease in the following:
- The severity of anxiety
Additionally, participants from the pilates group also experienced a decrease in weight, body mass index, and a reduced circumference in their hips, waist, and thighs. Another study shows that weight loss positively impacts mental health by reducing depression, anxiety, and stress.
3 - Suitable for the Elderly, Physically Challenged, and Pregnant Women
There is no limit to who can perform reformer pilates as the young, the elderly, and even pregnant women can safely practice it. Reformer pilates offers flexible routines that anyone can do, including the physically challenged.
Reformer Pilates for the Elderly
One of the most notable changes in aging is a decrease in mobility, strength, and balance. With time, these changes can affect how you live your life.
The National Institute on Aging suggests that limited mobility leads to the following in the elderly:
- Higher disease rates
- Lower possibility of living at home
A consistent and relatively easy exercise program can help alleviate some of these effects of aging.
Seniors will love these reformer pilates exercises because they are low-impact and do not put pressure on the joints.
Reformer pilates helps the elderly in two major ways: increasing bone density and relieving chronic pain. Bones lose strength with age, making you more prone to fractures and falls, and reformer pilates can help with this.
A 2015 PubMed study shows that reformer pilates can help improve bone mineral density. Forty-one women in the study were divided into two groups: a pilates group and a control group. Results showed that the women in the pilates group had an increase in bone mineral density, while the women in the control group showed a decrease in bone density.
The springs in the reformer machine provide more “weighted” resistance compared to pilates on a mat. The higher resistance leads to an increase in bone density.
Reformer pilates helps relieve chronic pain, whether caused by arthritis or general body pain.
A study shows that pilates can help improve your quality of life and increase physical function in people with pain and disability. The study proves that reformer pilates, just like mat pilates, offers a gentle yet effective way to improve musculoskeletal conditions in people over 50.
Reformer Pilates for Pregnant Women
For pregnant women, low to moderate exercise is good for your body and the baby. Reformer pilates is low-impact and great for stabilizing joints, which can help relieve body aches associated with pregnancy.
Pregnant women experience increased heart rate and blood volume, which often causes shortness of breath.
A 2017 study on the impact of pilates on pregnant women showed that there was improved blood pressure, hamstring flexibility, and spinal curvature, after just two weeks.
Prenatal pilates also positively affects the nervous system by lowering blood pressure and helping women emotionally and mentally prepare for labor and delivery.
If you are pregnant, you must consult a prenatal healthcare professional before embarking on any exercise program. Some conditions place a pregnancy at a high risk, such as placenta previa, aortic valve stenosis, epilepsy, and poorly controlled asthma, and exercise could heighten the risk.
Pregnant women also need to stay hydrated to prevent their bodies from overheating, often caused by increased blood flow and respiratory changes.
Reformer Pilates for Injured or Physically Challenged People
Reformer pilates is also great for anyone undergoing physical therapy or rehabilitation. In fact, it is not uncommon to find rehabilitation centers with reformer machines.
It’s great for rehabilitation because it allows the client to exercise horizontally without placing pressure on injured areas.
For example, if someone has a knee injury, the reformer machine helps them strengthen their muscles through a wider range of motion without ever putting direct pressure on the knee itself.
A Reformer for Every Need
Whether you own a rehabilitation or fitness center or simply need a machine for personal workouts, Vaissal has a wide selection of reformer pilates machines to choose from.
We offer everything from standalone machines to towers and accessories. We also offer discounts for bulk orders.
Talk to us for more information or to get a quote.
“The reformer works as advertised - very versatile and flexible in how it can be used”
- Laura Kelly
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