6 super-strengthening Reformer moves
The beauty of Pilates is that there are endless amounts of exercises to keep your body guessing. I had the pleasure, yet again, to learn a few moves from the lovely pros at Studio S in Cincinnati. Anna Wall took me to the Reformer this time around to demonstrate 6 strength exercises that can sculpt one's body from head to toe. It is important to note that these exercises are meant for people with experience on the Reformer. Ask a certified instructor to help coach you along, and enjoy the strength benefits your body will feel! And as always, consult with your physician before beginning any fitness routine.
Reverse Knee Stretch - for lower abdominals and shoulder stabilization. Exhale as you draw knees toward hands (about 4 inches), hold for a few counts, then inhale as you return to start. Draw abdominals in toward spine. Perform 6-8 reps on a light spring.
Chest expansion - works triceps, transverse abdominus, trapezius muscles and lattisimus dorsi. Palms facing inward toward hips, pull handles back about 12 inches, pause, and return to start at hip bone. Remember to engage the abdominals, relax the neck and shoulders, and drop the shoulder blades, engaging the trapezius muscles. This excercise is great for improving posture. Perform 8-10 reps on a moderate spring.
Elephant - With heels down against the shoulder blocks, position tailbone over ankles and weight over the heels while extending arms with a flat back. On the inhale, hinge the legs back pushing the carraige of the reformer about 5 inches. Slowly return legs to start position on the exhale, pulling in the lower abdominals. Great stretch for hamstrings, shoulder stabilizer, and lower and transverse abdominal strengthener. 6-8 reps on moderate to light spring.
Cross Arm Pull (Draw the sword) - works obliques, shoulders, chest, triceps. Sitting sideways on carriage of reformer, knees shoulder width apart, pull handle with outside arm from hip to shoulder height. 8 reps on moderate to light spring.
Kneeling Bicep Curl - works biceps, transverse abdominus, quads, glutes, hamstrings. Great for shoulder stability. Holding a straight line from knees to shoulders, lean back at a slight angle. Curl arms from shoulder height and width, bringing handles to shoulders while pulling shoulders down the back. 6-8 reps on moderate to light spring.
Standing Lunge - Great hamstring and hip flexor stretch, as well as pelvic and abdominal stabilizer. Stand beside the reformer with your right foot lined up with the foot bar and your weight on your right leg. Place your hands shoulder width apart on the foot bar and your left foot on the shoulder rest. Bend your right knee and make sure the knee is lined up right over the ankle. Straighten your elbows. Perform 2 times on each side using a moderate spring.
Again, these exercises are not for Reformer "virgins", as much of what I have described above is difficult to conceptualize without prior experience on the machine. But as you can see from the variety of muscle groups trained, Pilates is far more than just a passive workout.
If you live in Cincinnati and you are new to, or experienced in Pilates, I encourage you to check out the crew at Studio S. Anna teaches several mat and Reformer classes during the week and you can check out the full schedule at Studio S here.
And finally, a few words from our gal, Anna!
My background is a comprehensive study of all Pilates apparatus from BASI (Body Arts and Science International). I always like to focus on a well-balanced, full body approach to Pilates with proper form.
Each class is different- you will never do the same "routine" in class, but if we perform the same movement from class to class it will never feel the same because there is always something new to feel or a way to engage the muscles differently.
I love challenging each person that comes into class and improving my clients' overall health and well-being by improving posture, balance, core strength and stability as well as providing a space where you can just focus on you and forget everything else that may be going on around you.
I love teaching. It's my passion and I want to share it with everyone I meet!
Want a chance to join me for a class at Studio S? Leave a comment below, or head on over to the Studio S or The City Skinny Facebook page, telling us how Pilates could put a "Spring" in your step! We will collect all comments and announce a lucky winner on Monday!