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Pilates Reformer Exercises For Beginners

Pilates Reformer Exercises For Beginners

The Reformer is one of the most utilized Pilates equipment. It’s a machine with springs that provide resistance and make it easy to do many different exercises. While the Reformer may seem intimidating, it offers numerous benefits for beginners.

In this article, you will learn about the parts of a Reformer. Additionally, you will explore various Pilates Reformer exercises tailored specifically for beginners. You will also know more tips as you work out to kickstart your Pilates journey with confidence and ease.


What is a Pilates Reformer?

Pilates is an effective low-impact exercise that helps with core stability, strength, flexibility, balance, and proper alignment. This workout includes ideas like mindfulness, breathing techniques, and smooth movement.

A Reformer is made up of a frame and a platform bed that is about 7 feet long and 2.5 feet wide. It also has a footbar, a set of risers with pulleys and ropes, and a sliding carriage with a headrest and shoulder blocks connecting to the springs and gear system.


Parts of a Pilates Reformer

Using a Reformer can help you in various ways for your Pilates workout, but you must be familiar with its parts to maximize your usage. Here are the essential components:

  • Front platform: This stable part of the Reformer generally has springs that let you change the tension and can be used as a base for exercises. Many Reformers come with a movable bar, so you can do more types of Pilates.
  • Back platform: Another stable, flat area on the machine is often used for shorter straps with handles and movable bars.
  • Moving carriage: This flat, padded surface moves forward and backward. Some also have shoulder blocks that make them more stable and comfortable.
  • Springs: These parts allow the machine's resistance to be changed so that workouts can be done differently. Most springs are labeled with a color, and each color represents the resistance level. Also, a lighter spring might not make things easier for you as you exercise since you have to strengthen your core more.
  • Straps: The longer straps next to the carriage are usually used for exercises that work on balance and stability, while the shorter ones are used for exercises that work on strain.


Beginner-Level Pilates Reformer Exercises

Now that you know what a Pilates workout is and how a Reformer works, you can start practicing. This one-of-a-kind piece of equipment lets you do a huge range of exercises that are great for body workouts in minutes. 

For beginners, here are the exercises you can do with a Reformer:

Leg Circles

This beginner Pilates Reformer exercise can improve hip mobility and strengthen the core muscles. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Attach two springs to the base for the right resistance. Use the handles to hook the extension straps through.
  2. Put your feet and knees together on the platform and lie down. Putting the straps over your head and then sliding your feet into the loops one at a time.
  3. Place your hands to the sides and your palms flat on the floor. Press your pelvis down. Then, start with your heels together and your toes spread out in a small V shape. Ensure you bend your knees into your chest and keep your back down.
  4. Start circling your legs in a controlled motion, moving from the hips. Avoid swaying by keeping your movements regulated and smooth.
  5. Aim to maintain stability in your pelvis and lower back as you trace the circle with your legs.
  6. After completing circles in one direction, reverse the motion and circle your legs in the opposite direction.

You should always maintain proper form and control when practicing the leg circles exercise on your Pilates Reformer. Also, avoid arching your lower back or letting your pelvis tilt excessively.

Reformer Footwork

The Reformer footwork exercise targets the lower body, particularly the legs and glutes, while also engaging the core muscles. To perform Reformer footwork, you should do the following steps:

  1. Add four springs to the platform for maximum resistance.
  2. Lay down on your back on the Pilates Reformer platform. Then, make a small V shape with your feet by putting the balls of your feet on the footbar and your heels together. To make your knees line up over your middle toes, lift your feet and slightly bend them.
  3. Pull your shoulders down and away from your ears while keeping your arms at your sides and your hands flat on the platform. It's important to keep your head down and look at the footbar.
  4. Put your feet straight and squeeze your glutes to move the Reformer platform out. This movement will keep your abs tight and your lower back flat on the floor.
  5. Stay in this position for a short time. Then, put pressure on your hips.
  6. It's important to keep your balance as you bend your knees out over the middle of your feet and push them against the foot bar.

Variations of foot placement on the footbar can target different muscle groups, such as the inner thighs or calves, providing a versatile workout.

Stomach Massage - Arms Back

This Pilates Reformer workout focuses on strengthening the core muscles, particularly the abdominals while engaging the arms and back muscles. Here’s how you can perform this exercise:

  1. Set up three springs for better resistance.
  2. Put your feet up on the front of the Pilates Reformer platform. Ensure you place the balls of your feet on the footbar and line up your heels with your toes, leaving a small space between them. Also, keep your knees open and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Stand up straight and put your hands on the shoulder blocks behind you. Then, pull your shoulders down and open your chest.
  4. Spread your legs out and slide back. Then, bring your feet down. It would be best to squeeze your hips to keep your heels together the whole time.
  5. Once more, squat down and slide forward. Then, get your feet back to where they started. This position will keep your back straight.
  6. Repeat the sequence based on your workout program, and always focus on maintaining control and fluidity of movement.

Stomach Massage - Rounded

This beginner-friendly Pilates Reformer exercise focuses on engaging and strengthening the core muscles and abdominals while promoting spinal flexibility. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place your feet on the front of the Pilates Reformer base.
  2. Put the balls of your feet on the footbar and spread your toes out a bit. Keep your heels together and your knees shoulder-width apart.
  3. Use your hands outside your knees to lightly hold the front edge of the platform. This position will keep your body grounded.
  4. Pull your abs in and tuck your chin in to curve your back. Maintain the length of your neck; do not bend forward. Now, you are in the starting position.
  5. As you inhale, squeeze your hips and keep your heels together as you extend your legs. Going this way will make you slide back.
  6. Let out a breath and bend your knees again. Don’t lean back or sink as you return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat the sequence for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on maintaining control and fluidity of movement.

The Frog on the Pilates Reformer

If you want to work on your inner thighs, hip flexors, and core muscles, this beginner Pilates Reformer exercise is best to try. Here’s how:

  1. Attach two springs to the base for the right resistance. Hitch them through the handles on the other end of the footbar to make the straps longer.
  2. Position your feet and knees together on the platform and lie down.
  3. Put the straps over your head and then slide your feet into the loops one at a time.
  4. Place your hands flat on the platform and press your pelvis down. Then, keep your arms long and by your sides. Start with your heels together and your toes spread out in a small V shape. This position will help you bend your knees into your chest and keep your back down.
  5. Stretch your legs out at a 45-degree angle with the base and a 60-degree angle with your legs. Turn your toes out and point your heels together. The straps should fall between your knees. To keep your lower back flat on the mat, squeeze your hips and pull your abs in.
  6. Put your heels together and your toes apart, and bend your knees into your chest. Repeat the steps as necessary.


Benefits of Pilates Reformer Workouts

There are many benefits Pilates Reformer can offer your body and overall health condition, such as the following:

Builds strength

Adding springs to some moves can make the Pilates Reformer exercises harder and more intense to build strength.

Corrects muscle imbalances and tones muscles

In Pilates Reformer, you fix uneven muscles by first focusing on making your core stronger. After that, you work on different muscle groups to strengthen them. This way, you get a stronger core and tone many important muscles all over your body.

Improves posture

Pilates Reformer can help you build a strong core, become more flexible, and realign your body and spine. This impacts how you stand and sit.

Increases flexibility

Pilates Reformer's benefits are strengthening muscles, making joints more mobile, and increasing flexibility. That's because dynamic stretching is a part of most routines.

Prevents injury

The Pilates Reformer can help you avoid future injuries by working on your posture form and fixing muscle imbalances. This exercise can lead to better balance and efficiency.


Tips When Working Out on a Pilates Reformer

Even the most seasoned Pilates practitioner can experience mistakes when working out on a Reformer. So, how much more is a beginner? To help you out, here are some useful tips you can consider:

Familiarize yourself with each part of the machine

Your equipment manufacturer probably sent you an owner's manual and put some lessons online. It would be best to watch those video tutorials before you use your Reformer and familiarize yourself with each part so that you can perform the exercises correctly.

Step on sturdy surfaces first

When doing Pilates on the Reformer, position your foot or hands on the stable part first. Put one foot on the edge and then the other on the carriage. Only get on the carriage if you can do it safely and steadily.

Watch out for loaded springs

When stress is applied to springs, they enable your body to perform motions that would be challenging to accomplish without them. Whether you're trying to get a good exercise in or just want feedback on where you stand in space, springs are a great tool.

Use a nonslip grip

Wear grip socks or use the grip pad if you're prone to sweating when exercising. 

Keep track of your progressions

Reformer use necessitates different abilities, even for those who have exercised regularly for a long time. Since Pilates is an all-encompassing method, beginners should lay a strong groundwork for more advanced exercises.

Get a companion to watch you

Take your time and pay attention to how you move as you get ready. If you're unsure about standing or balancing on the carriage, get a friend to watch you.

Stop working out if anything doesn’t seem right

Always remember that Pilates should never cause pain. Notify your Pilates instructor if you experience pain or discomfort throughout your practice.

Before starting an exercise program, it’s recommended that you consult your doctor. Additionally, it would be best to work with a Pilates professional on your first session using a Pilates Reformer.


Explore the Endless Possibilities of Exercising on Pilates Reformer

In this article, you have learned some beginner Pilates Reformer exercises that you can start with, like the Leg Circles and Reformer Footwork. By incorporating these foundational movements, focusing on proper technique, and gradually progressing at your own pace, you can have transformative Pilates workouts to improve your strength, flexibility, and overall well-being.

Remember to listen to your body, stay committed to your practice, and embrace Pilates's endless possibilities. It’s also worth investing in good quality Pilates equipment, like a trapeze table, to help you with your fitness journey.

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