Benefits of a Pilates Reformer workout

8.12.23 by Thomas Millar

Rob Smith - Shoulder Press

Reformer Pilates is a series of dynamic movements that provide a great full-body workout with many physical and mental advantages. The benefits of Reformer Pilates workouts are many and varied. The nature of the bed (the Pilates Reformer machine) means that Reformer Pilates exercises can be adapted to suit your level of fitness, enabling complete beginners and the more experienced to exercise side-by-side without one feeling left behind or the other feeling held back. 

How does Reformer Pilates differ from mat Pilates? 

The Pilates workout with a Reformer bed is even more beneficial than doing mat Pilates. When you do Pilates on an exercise mat, you have very little support as you do the movements. When you do Reformer Pilates, the bed provides you with a lot of support, meaning you’re less likely to overstretch yourself and risk injury. The series of springs and pulleys on the reformer bed enables you to create resistance which gives you a much better workout, meaning you’re building up strength at the same time as improving your flexibility. 

In the rest of this blog, we’ll take a look at the many benefits of a Pilates Reformer workout. 

Improves strength

Using the reformer bed’s springs to increase resistance as you take part in the exercises is a great way of helping you build up muscle strength and improve muscular endurance. Reformer Pilates focuses on the core muscles – also referred to as your powerhouse muscles, i.e your deeper abdominal muscles, glutes and back muscles. Having a strong core is essential as it supports your body while you build up the strength of your other muscles. Not only does this provide a strong foundation, but it also helps to prevent injury by correcting imbalances. This in turn improves posture. If you are doing strength training in the gym, Reformer Pilates is a terrific additional exercise as it will help reduce injury risk by helping you work on all your major muscle groups.

Promotes good posture

Good posture is essential if you want to stay fit and improve your physical health. Having good posture helps you with your balance, protects you from muscle injury and improves your circulation and digestion. Poor posture can be responsible for back pain, headaches, low energy, tension and even joint pain. When you slouch you reduce your lung capacity, so good posture will help you improve your breathing. 

Improves flexibility

As you get older, you naturally lose muscle flexibility. This process is made worse with our sedentary lifestyle which is responsible for the tightening and shortening of the tendons, ligaments and muscles around your joints. Inactivity also results in the loss of the synovial fluid that surrounds and protects your joints, preventing the ends of the bones from rubbing together when you move, which is likely to end in pain, inflammation and decreased mobility. Reformer Pilates is designed to improve flexibility by stretching the muscles around your joints which will enable you to move around more freely. And when movement is easy and pain-free, you’re much more likely to do more physically, which will end in a virtuous circle of ever-improving flexibility. 

Recovery from injury and childbirth

Reformer Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the first half of the 20th century as physiotherapy for hospital patients. His system of springs and pulleys was designed to fit on a hospital bed to allow patients who couldn’t get out of bed to begin their recovery sooner, increasing the effectiveness of treatment and speeding up recovery time. This makes Reformer Pilates the perfect exercise to help you with any muscular injury rehabilitation, including recovery from childbirth or other conditions that have resulted in musculoskeletal trauma. As a gentle, low-impact exercise that supports you as you work out, it puts less strain on your joints at the same time as improving the flexibility and strength of your muscles, and allowing you to heal more effectively and more quickly.  

If you are nervous about your recovery journey, look out for our Rehab & Fundamentals sessions which are designed to help you take things more slowly, helping you build up your strength and your confidence at a more comfortable pace. 

Weight loss 

You don’t burn many calories by doing Reformer Pilates so it isn’t the answer to weight loss on its own, but as part of your mission to lose weight, improve your fitness, diet and nutrition in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it can definitely help. 

Helps counteract modern life

Modern life isn’t conducive to good posture, and with so many of us spending our days hunched over computers, it’s no wonder there are so many problems with aches, pains and bad backs. Reformer Pilates is therefore especially important as a way of helping desk workers stretch out and alleviate all those aches and pains that accumulate after a long day working on the computer, at the same time as improving your posture and improving core strength and flexibility. 

Great for all ages

The great thing about Reformer Pilates is that you’re never too old to start. Whatever your age or fitness level, everyone can benefit from it as it builds muscle tone and improves flexibility – aspects of your physicality that disappear as you age causing the kind of stiffness, aches and pains that are preventable with exercise. 

Great exercise for people brand new to fitness

If you’re new to exercise but want to find a way to improve your fitness level that eases you in gently, Reformer Pilates classes will be perfect for you. It’s a great exercise for beginners because it gives you the opportunity to progress safely and at your own pace. And because the class sizes are small, you’ll get a lot of support and attention from Pilates instructors who will make sure you’re always in the correct position and getting the most out of your time. 

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