The Pilates Reformer

You might be more familiar

with Pilates as being a mat based form of exercise, but it also utilises different pieces if specialised equipment. These pieces of equipment use springs to add resistance to movement. There’s an interesting little backstory to the invention of these machines. Pilates is named after the man who developed the method- Joseph Pilates. Joseph Pilates was a German living in England during WWI, and was sent as an enemy alien to live on the Isle of Man. A keen exerciser but with limited resources, he fashioned some gym equipment out of bed springs. Legend has it that everyone who participated in Joseph Pilates’ exercise classes never got sick and left the island in perfect health!

From here, the reformer bed was developed- it is still utilised extensively today. The machine is made up of a gliding carriage that sits on a frame and has two straps attached to it. The springs resist the movement of the carriage, and the two straps can either be held in your hands, or with your feet. The beauty of the reformer is its versatility. You can work pretty much any muscle group on the reformer. The springs can be adjusted to cater for a wide range of abilities.

Exercises on the reformer focus on alignment and control, promoting strength and flexibility. When used properly, they can be a valuable tool in correcting dysfunctional movement patterns. Reformers are used extensively in rehab spaces, especially for problems involving knee and ankle as a lot of the exercises allow you to push against a resistance that is less than your body weight. The machine also caters for more advanced movers, with a lot of exercises requiring high levels of strength and control.

To cap it off, in my opinion, reformers are good fun as well. They are so unlike anything else you have used in the gym and can a lot of variety to your exercise practice. Because they are different to what you may be used to doing in the gym or at home, I would recommend learning to use one under supervision from an experienced Pilates instructor. You will experience the benefits of using the reformer so much more if you perform exercises that are suitable for your body with good form.

If you are interested in adding a reformer workout to your exercise routine, we have semi-private classes that utilise different bits of Pilates equipment, including the reformer. Classes are tailored to your individual needs, goals, and abilities. They are run by an exercise physiologist, so private health fund rebates are available. Contact the clinic on 4216 5550 or email us at if you would like to know more.