Reformer Pilates

What is a Reformer?

A weird rowing machine? Some type of torture device? I’m not quite sure?! All stuff we’ve heard people say about a Reformer. So here’s the lowdown :

☑️   It’s a traditional piece of Pilates equipment that looks like a bed with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys. 

☑️   Designed by Joseph Pilates; he attached springs to hospital beds so that patients could start to tone muscles even when bed-bound. 

☑️   An A-MAZ-ING piece of equipment designed to help you do exercises that sometimes you wouldn’t be able to do without some help from the springs, straps and ropes that you’ll find on the Reformer – or to add challenge to exercises that body weight or freeform exercises can’t always achieve.

☑️   Designed to help create flexibility, strength and mobility throughout the whole body. 

☑️   Safely supports you and your posture so you can perform the exercises properly (and with control), using the right muscles; all helping to reduce the risk of injury and strengthen your body as you go. All giving you the confidence to challenge your body to get the right results.

☑️   Exercises can go from more accessible to more challenging based on the setup of the Reformer and exercise meaning that anyone from those newly recovered from injury to athletes can all benefit from the same workout.

☑️   User-friendly, adaptable, and modifiable for everyone from beginners to athletes, giving great results for just about anyone. 

☑️   Removes the anxiety of a freeform exercise. Everything is controlled to allow you to get the most benefit from every exercise.


The carriage is where you lie, sit, stand or kneel during your session, and is attached to one end of the reformer by a set of springs. Firstly, you need to know that the carriage will move – and so will you (the motion can be a little disorientating at first). Moving without gravity is weird – but one of the BEST things too. The goal is to move smoothly with the glide of the carriage, working muscles as you go. You’ve got this!


The 5 springs are a resistance (think weights in the gym) and provide both a challenge and support to your exercises on the reformer. Body weight and resistance (springs) are what makes pushing and pulling the carriage more or less difficult. Use different combinations of springs to get the desired resistance for particular exercises. Unlike weights in the gym, though, heavier doesn’t always mean harder. Sometimes a lighter spring can challenge you more and in different ways to traditional resistance training. Being able to adjust the springs as you get stronger and more flexible allows you to continue to develop – as Pilates doesn’t get easier, you just get better! Different coloured springs represent different resistances (from very light/easy to heavy/challenging).

Straps / Ropes & Pulleys

Perhaps the best bit of a reformer, the straps; attached to a rope around a pulley. Hands or feet go in the straps (not at the same time!) to move the carriage. Add resistance, provide support, challenge balance and stability in both lower and upper body exercises and, in conjunction with the springs, adds a new element to your workout.

Shoulder Rests

When you are lying down, these help stop you sliding off the end of the reformer! Seriously, though, they help to put you in a straighter position on the carriage as well as giving your shoulders something to push against as you move the carriage. Oh, also great hand holds in other great reformer exercises (and we promise your core will thank you for these too!)


That’s an easy one – your feet go here …… well, yes, but much more too! Exercises where you rest your hands here to help stabilise you during the exercise. It’s so much more than somewhere to rest your feet!

Head Rest

Need a little extra support for your head when lying down. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered here with a small, adjustable head rest whilst you’re lying on the carriage.

Standing Platform

Self-titled! Where you stand to help keep you stable when doing some of the standing exercises. Means you can move the carriage whilst standing (and not falling over!)


Placed on or beside the carriage, the box can be used for a whole host of exercises. Great if you’re a little less flexible or struggle to sit up straight and can help to make some exercises a little more comfortable.

Invented by Joseph Pilates, a reformer machine looks a little like a rowing machine but instead of a small seat, there’s a bigger ‘seat’ that you can lie down on (the carriage). The carriage is attached to the reformer at one end with springs which allow you to alter the resistance as you push and pull yourself and the carriage along. Straps  also help you pull the carriage back and forth with either your hands or feet! Placing your feet (or hands) on the footbar and pushing away also does the same thing.

It can be used in many ways, involving pushing or pulling the carriage against the resistance. Exercises can be done standing, sitting, lying or even almost upside down! Simply put, you can do some much more on the reformer than you can on the mat. So wherever you are on your Pilates journey, there’s a Reformer workout just for you.

Why is the Reformer so good for me? Well, a REFORMER……

⭐   is large enough to allow you full range of movement throughout your joints which is amazing for increasing your flexibility whilst also building strength. Increasing the stretch and length of tighter muscles as well as easier movement at joints all means your body feels taller, stronger and just easier to be in.

⭐   classes are only small groups of 6. Think of it like personal training; individual attention, modifications and assistance whilst working out with the energy of a group. It’s much easier when you’re there working out with others – there to cheer you on when it gets tough – and to celebrate when you get there).

⭐   has springs that can be changed to lighten or increase the resistance giving you endless possibilities to challenge or support the muscles and joints as you work on getting stronger. All this means that the exercises and workout are unique to you.

⭐   starts at YOUR beginning not everyone else’s. It helps you wherever you’re at – from recovering from an injury where you need a little more support from the springs to aid your recovery; needing to sort out posture after sitting at work all day; all the way to pro-athletes who are looking for that extra challenge.

⭐   safely supports your body with the help of the carriage, shoulder rests, straps and footbar, allowing you to move in ways that you wouldn’t be able to do without the support.

⭐   requires NO minimum fitness level. The workout meets you where you’re at in your health and wellness journey – you really don’t need to at a certain level of fitness or flexibility to start (read: you definitely don’t need to be able to touch your toes to start – in fact, we actively encourage you if you can’t to start!)

⭐   is easy on the joints. The session has lots of closed chain exercises – simply put, it’s easy on the joints; no pounding or impact, just controlled movement against an adjustable spring system.

⭐  is less stress on the spine. A session can include lots of exercises lying down, meaning that your spine is decompressed and you can work at bigger ranges compared to standing up ( = get stronger and move further )

⭐   session is a full body workout (it does everything – core, legs, arms, you name it!). Strengthen and straighten your body for all the other things in life you’d love to do.

⭐   workout will help you rediscover some forgotten muscles, find new ones and work those ones that need a little love and help along the way; meaning you get a full body, balanced workout every time.

Is the Reformer for me?

It looks a little scary – is this a Reformer Pilates workout for me? Yes, yes and YES! Reformer Pilates can be a great workout for anyone. Both the reformer settings and exercises can ALL be modified to suit, which makes it perfect for those of you looking to tone up, train for a sport, or post-rehabilitation from an injury. Reformer Pilates work focuses on core strength and proper engagement of muscles which improves performance, helps with injury recovery and back pain, weight loss, balance, posture and bone density to name a few of things it can help with.

As with any exercise, you should always speak to your doctors if you are unsure about starting to check – and be sure to let us know if you have any injuries.

Reformer Pilates is a movement system designed to help strengthen your body, increase your wellbeing, and help you to be a healthier version of yourself.

10 Reasons to convert to a Reformer Pilates workout: 

 You’ll become long & lean

 It boosts your metabolism

 Improves coordination

 Helps boost performance in other sports

 Helps you recovery from injury

 Improves your flexibility

 Improves your posture

 It’s low impact

 It teaches you how to breathe better

 It’s an awesome core workout