If you don't know what a reformer machine is or have never been on one they can seem a little intimidating. But do not be afraid, they are not torture devices, as the name might suggest, but brilliant equipment designed to universally reform the body. Like Pilates mat work, the exercises on the reformer will help you build overall strength; increase mobility, flexibility and, endurance; promote optimal balance and alignment and create healthy joints and a happy spine. While Pilates on the mat sees the body working against gravity, the reformer machine takes it up a notch by adding springs to create further resistance to challenge the body.
Joseph Pilates created the first reformer prototype at an internment camp in Germany, during WWI. You see, Joseph Pilates was obsessed with physical health and fitness and he aggressively encouraged everyone to participate in his exercise regimen. Bed ridden soldiers not excluded. Pilates used springs from their beds that he attached to bed posts to create a pulley system which allowed the infirmed to exercise. This helped lead to the healing of injured limbs by strengthening and increasing circulation and mobility. This also lifted spirits. And the reformer will lift your spirits too. It is still used for rehabilitative purposes but also: it gives you a super fun and kick ass workout.
While, for many of the reformer exercises (and there are hundreds) you lie down on what is called the carriage, the reformer is no longer a bed but a sophisticated piece of equipment that has you working out creatively and in various different planes. Because of the added resistance the springs provide, the reformer tends to give your limbs a more challenging workout then the mat and is ideal for building muscles and bone density. Think sculpted arms and legs and increased mobility and optimal joint alignment. It also creates a better scenario to increase the heart rate so that you get cardio training in your Pilates workout.
Adding reformer to your Pilates practice is like adding whipped cream to a sundae. It was already so good but it just got even better. The cherry on top: practicing on the reformer will -guarantee- make your yoga practice stronger too.
So jump on the carriage and give the reformer machine a spin.