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Your Health

The Pilates Reformer: What's it all about?


Courtesy of Kim Gladfelter
The Pilates Reformer can relieve individuals’ suffering from lower-back and neck pain. It can also speed up recovery from some injuries.

Perhaps you have caught a glimpse of the curious contraption that takes center stage at every Pilates gym – the Reformer.

Have you wondered what this equipment is? The truth is that Reformer-based exercise is one of the most sought-after choices at Pilates studios around the world. So what is it?

The Reformer’s unique design allows one to effectively improve strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and concentration all in one short workout. All of these impacts make the Reformer’s growing popularity well earned. After all, who would not want to reap those benefits? However, there are additional, less-known effects of a Reformer exercise program that make it incredibly beneficial for athletes, injured patients and seniors.

The Reformer’s benefits

For athletes, the increased body awareness of a Pilates Reformer program makes other forms of exercise go further. Because every Pilates exercise engages many muscle groups and requires heightened awareness of movement and positioning, it helps to solidify the connection between mind and body, allowing one to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of movement in other exercise regimens.

Pilates Reformer exercises can be done in many different positions, including standing, sitting, kneeling, quadruped or lying on your back, stomach or side. With this variety of options, it expands the opportunities to work on countless functional movements that can be translated to other exercises.

When someone is susceptible to injury, the increased level of body awareness and strengthening from a Reformer regimen does wonders for injury prevention. It can also expedite recovery when there is an injury, because a strengthened body rebuilds itself more quickly.

Injury prevention and rehabilitation is all about building strength in the right muscles and increasing awareness of movement. Pilates Reformer exercises accomplish this by improving posture through stabilization of the deep abdominals, back and pelvic girdle region. With this adjustment, the back, neck, shoulders and hips are effectively protected throughout our daily routines. Consequently, a Reformer program is especially helpful for those with lower-back pain, neck pain and hip injuries and for women who have recently given birth. I had four very easy pregnancies and deliveries, thanks to my dedication to a Pilates Reformer regimen during that stage of life.

Fit for all ages

One of the most amazing benefits I find in Pilates is that one can continue this exercise form to any age and enjoy the results. I have seen many people give up exercises such as aerobics and running because high-impact activities are less tolerable with age. However, I have also seen people successfully return to such fitness programs when they cross-train with a good Pilates Reformer routine.

It is refreshing to know that we do not have to settle for a life of stiffness, pain and movement limitations as we get older. The Reformer program opens the door to healthful body mechanics and fitness, no matter what stage of life we are in.

I am so passionate about Pilates because I see how effective it can be for helping all kinds of people. Whether one strives to improve athletic form, prevent injury or maintain fitness for the long term, the Pilates Reformer serves as an effective complement to reaching these goals.

The best way to learn more about Pilates is to take an introductory Reformer series geared toward teaching the basic principles of the approach. Through such a series, you will quickly learn how this revolutionary equipment can positively affect overall body health as well as inspire a lifetime of fitness.

Kim Gladfelter is owner, physical therapist and Pilates instructor at PhysioFit Physical Therapy and Wellness, 1000 Fremont Ave., Los Altos. For more information, call 947-8500 or visit physiofitpt.com.

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