If you are new to a Pilates Studio then the equipment can seem a bit daunting at first and you may wonder why on earth it even exists. Let's deal the why question first. Originally Joseph Pilates crafted his exercises on equipment that he modified from beds and chairs - this was during the First World War. Later in life he was able to have his equipment custom built for him and this was how he practised his work in his New York Studio on custom built equipment. This was fine if you were one of the few who lived in New York and could get to his Studio. But Joe wanted his work spread far and wide and so he adapted his exercises to be performed without equipment. We now know these exercises as Matwork Pilates and they were first published in his book Return to Life&. Joe died decades before his vision became a reality and today his series of matwork exercises are perhaps the most commonly taught form of Pilates throughout the World.
However Joe believed that working a persons body against gravity alone would not get results as efficiently as a machine which provides resistance and neuromuscular feedback. Joe believed that by working the body in the horizontal plane (lying down) it would reduce the stress on joints while strengthening the muscles around them and encourage alignment of the extremities without the challenge of gravity. This would then help a person maintain a better alignment (posture) when they were in the vertical place (standing up)
So just why are they so popular and why do we have three Reformers? Quite simply they work and they work efficiently. As a teacher I am able to challenge and increase the quality of movement in a person by using the tension created through springs and create greater feedback for the brain and body. By increasing the feedback I can increase proprioception and a fuller mind-body connection is stimulated. By having the choice of open or closed kinetic chain exercises I am able to isolate muscle groups much more efficiently which make the reformer a great piece of equipment for working with rehab clients or on a particular musculoskeletal issue.
Don't just take my word for it - try a Pilates equipment class and experience The Universal Reformer for yourself. See our class schedule