If you’ve ever tried doing pilates on a reformer, you’ll know that there are endless ways to work your core, arms and legs. These four essential reformer exercises will whip you into shape in no time.
Doing planks on the pilates reformer is no easy feat. Be prepared for quivering limbs as your body struggles to maintain a straight line while perched on the machine. Of course, it’s well worth the effort.
“Reformer exercises help you tone up and grow stronger much faster than pilates moves on the mat,” says Claudel Kuek, founder and CEO of Powermoves Pilates In The Park. If you’re new to the reformer, be sure to have a qualified instructor guide you through manoeuvring those straps, springs and pulleys.
Powermoves instructor Mary Diorlyn Papelera demonstrates four exercises that will work your muscles doubly hard.
Do these moves on the pilates reformer three or four times a week in any order – and without resting in between. Remember to do these exercises slowly and in a controlled manner.
1. THE HUNDRED
Lie on back with knees bent at 90 degrees, shins parallel to floor. Place hands in straps and extend arms upwards, perpendicular to body [shown]. Inhale to begin. Upon exhaling, lift head and chest by using abdominal muscles as you curl upper spine. Extend arms past buttocks as you straighten legs at 45-degree angle. Keep neck and shoulders relaxed [shown]. In this position, take in and release five short breaths, gently pulsing arms up and down with each breath. Do 10 reps.
2. HUG A TREE
Works shoulders and pectorals
Sit cross-legged on reformer carriage with back against shoulder rests. Place hands in straps and extend arms out to sides at shoulder level, keeping elbows straight but not locked [shown]. Inhale to begin. Upon exhaling, draw arms towards each other till parallel [shown]. Inhale and draw arms away from each other, with elbows slightly bent and core tightened. Keep neck and shoulders relaxed, and body upright. Do eight to 10 reps.
3. THE PLANK
Works abdominals and lower back
Get into plank position with toes on platform and hands on shoulder rests. Forearms should be parallel to each other and shoulders directly over wrists. Tighten core and extend spine, keeping shoulders relaxed and head in neutral position [shown]. Hold for 30 seconds while taking deep breaths. The carriage should not move during this time. Do two or three reps.
4. SINGLE LEG SKATING
Works glutes and quads
Inhale and stand on platform of reformer with left foot. Place right foot on front edge of carriage. Shift weight to left foot and squat deeply, placing hands on hips [shown]. Upon exhaling, straighten right leg by pushing carriage away. Keep left leg stable, body upright and tail bone tucked in [shown]. Inhale and return to starting position. Do eight to 10 reps; switch sides to complete set.