As part of Pilates, there are many pieces of equipment designed to help people get in and out of movements more easily, and adjust according to their experience, injury, and fitness levels.
But even with all that said, it's easy to mistake the Reformer — considered the top choice for many Pilates teachers and students — as some type of Medieval relic.
Vaguely resembling a rack from a bad movie that's set in the Middle Ages, the Reformer comes in several variations, with different types of attachments, but all resemble a strange twin bed that's only partially padded.
Evolution of the form
Since the founder of the practice, Joseph Pilates, developed the system for those in World War II internment camps, it's been said that the Reformer gets its look from the small beds prisoners had. With many growing weaker by the day, Pilates modified the beds with springs and straps to allow them to do strength-building exercises without additional effort.
Since then, the equipment has been refined and scaled down, so that it's now more like a funky sled than a weird bed. Straps allow you to slide from one end to the other, all while concentrating on specific muscles and consistent breathing.
Ultimate in versatility
There's good reason that the Reformer is so popular for Pilates. Exercises can be done sitting, standing, lying down, or kneeling. By being able to use components like the footbar and shoulder blocks, you can train several parts of the body in a short timeframe.
Also helpful, the Reformer is geared toward letting you work at multiple levels. So, you can still do exercises effectively even if you're injured or a beginner. No matter what level you work at, the equipment will allow you to build strength, focus, and coordination.
The best way to use the Reformer is under the expert guidance of a qualified instructor who can assess which exercises are right for your goals.
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