Reformer Pilates – What Is It & Why Do We Do It?

Reformer Pilates – What Is It & Why Do We Do It?

The Pilates Reformer is the most well-known piece of Pilates equipment, and it’s at the heart of what we do in our studio. But what is it? How does it work? Why does it work? If you’re wondering, then here’s what you need to know…

Moving carriage

The first thing you’ll notice about a Reformer is that it’s a moving carriage or platform. The carriage slides back and forth smoothly on runners, and depending on what exercise you are doing you’ll either be sitting, standing or kneeling on it. In addition, there’s a…


This bar – set at the end of the Reformer – moves up and down to different heights. You’ll either put your feet on it or your hands, again depending on which exercise you’re doing. Basically it gives you something to push off. Of course sometimes you’ll need…

Straps and cables

These give you something to pull, and you will either put your hands through them or sometimes your feet.

Adjustable springs

When you’re pushing, pulling and moving the difficulty or tension is changed using a set of adjustable springs. The more springs, the harder work it is to push or pull for example. This allows the instructor to tailor the difficulty of any movement to you. On which note…


A range of accessories can be used with the Reformer. Some are the accessories you’d use in a Mat class – balls, bands, circles for example. Others are specifically for the Reformer, such as jump boards or the extremely fun Cardio-Tramp (a mini trampoline used in our Cardio Reformer classes).

So why do we use Reformers?


The movement of the Reformer carriage and the straps and cables create instability that force your body to stabilise. This has a massive effect on your deep core muscles and the stabilisers around joints like your shoulders and hips. Way beyond anything you can achieve in a regular Mat class. In addition…

Long, Lean Muscles

Did you know your muscles can contract in 3 different ways? The most powerful when it comes to building muscle are Isometric (when your muscle is working to stay in position) and Eccentric (when your muscle works whilst lengthening). Most types of exercise do neither of these things, but Reformer is designed to do them specifically. If you’ve heard that Pilates builds longer leaner muscles it is not just a marketing ploy – it’s for real. And Reformer is the King of that long lean muscle growth.

Range of Movement

The cables, pulleys and springs allow a Reformer to open your body up even if you’re tight from sitting at a desk, carrying a baby or from years of bad posture or inactivity. It’s a great tool for loosening and stretching tight shoulders and hips, but can also help you work harder by putting you in better start and finish positions than you’d manage on a Mat / on your own.

Target Muscles

The Reformer allows us to target very small and specific muscles in your body in a way that Mat Pilates or other types of exercise cannot. We can strengthen support muscles inside the knee to lessen knee pain, or activate a sleep and inactive glut for example. This makes it a phenomenal tool both for rehab / corrective exercise and to enhance sport and exercise performance.

Variety and Scaling

The great thing about the Reformer is the wide range of exercises that can be done on it – all totally scaleable and adaptable. In a typical mat or yoga class, you can either perform the move as directed or you can’t. If you’re lucky (or in one of our mat classes) the instructor will use props and modifications to help you but in a Reformer class the instructor has infinitely more ways to scale, tailor and adapt the movements to you meaning you get much better results. Finally..

It’s Fun

Yep. It’s fun. The Reformer has huge variety of exercises, requires more focus and mind-body connection, and gets you better results. But probably the best thing about it is that it’s just more fun. Because of this you’ll enjoy doing it, you’ll do it more, and you’ll get more results.

If you’d like to experience the Reformer and see for yourself or have any questions, contact us using the form below and one of our specialist team will be in touch right away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.