Joseph Pilates invented the Pilates method as a way to stay healthy while being held in a detention center during the war. Over the years he perfected his method and eventually developed over 600 different exercises each targeting specific areas of the body and helping to improve the function of the body as a whole. Many of the exercises are performed on a mat on the floor, but as you become more advanced in Pilates you may find that you need a little more challenge and for that there is additional equipment that can be used. One such piece of equipment is the reformer. There are many pilates reformer exercises you can do, far too many to include in this article, so for now I’ll start with a few basics.
1. For your core you can start with this exercise: lie on your back with your feet on the foot bar. The platform should be very close to the foot bar so you will need to keep your legs bent to a 90 degree angle. Slowly stretch your legs which will move the platform away from the foot bar, make sure you are exhaling during this move. Reverse the move and inhale as you slowly bend your legs back to the original 90 degree angle.
2. The Frog. This exercise is geared to strengthen the hip muscles. This exercise is generally done using only two springs which focuses the attention on the smaller muscles. Inhale, lie supine with your spine in neutral position, put your feet in the straps, bend your knees, press your heels together, exhale. Straighten your legs so that they are at a 45 degree angle to the platform. Inhale, bend your knees and go back to the position you started in.
3. Arm Circles. You can use this exercise to strengthen the elbows and triceps, it will also help you develop core stabilization. Spring setting will vary depending on your strength. Start with one or two until you have a better idea of the best setting for you. To do the exercise you will need to inhale and lie supine on the reformer platform. Your hips and your knees should be in the tabletop position. Arms should be straight out to your sides, you will be making a T. Put your hands in the straps, exhale. Slowly and gently press your arms to your sides. Rotate your arms so that your palms are facing the platform. Inhale and bring your arms perpendicular to the platform. Bring your arms back to your starting T position.
Before you decide to go out on your own and workout at home with your own reformer it’s important that you take a few classes first. While the pilates method stresses building muscles by incorporating slow, gentle movements it is still possible to hurt yourself if you aren’t using the proper technique. If you are new to working out you should also see your doctor to get his OK before you start.
It could take a long time to learn all the various 600 exercises available in the pilates method, good for you that you can start with some simple pilates reformer exercises with just a little instruction from a qualified teacher. Get started today!