How reformer Pilates can work for you

·4 min read
Photo credit: Cavan Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Cavan Images - Getty Images

The famous and influential – from Margot Robbie to Meghan Markle – swear by the body conditioning benefits of reformer Pilates (where the mind-body discipline is performed on specialist equipment, allowing for a more dynamic, and/or targeted workout). But the practice is for all, whatever your physique or fitness ability.

"That you need to be 'in shape' to do reformer Pilates is not true,” says James Shaw, head of Pilates at Equinox St James, and formerly Frame’s reformer expert. “The Pilates philosophy is to build a strong powerhouse or core and then progress outwards.”

This makes reformer Pilates a great place to start in the world of studio workouts, he explains. “All the exercises can be progressed and regressed to the individual being taught. This will enable you to be challenged, thus strengthening you in multiple ways and setting you up to achieve your fitness goals.”

Here Shaw tells Bazaar all you need to know about reformer Pilates, plus we share our favourite spots to practice the discipline in the capital.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

The unique benefits of reformer Pilates

"The Pilates reformer is an amazing piece of apparatus like no other, which helps you to find length and space in the body while under spring tension. Far from just a workout for your core, this piece of apparatus helps create internal pressure to elongate the spine, joints and muscles which then leads to greater flexibility, strength, stamina and a more balanced posture. This type of physical and mental workout is even more relevant now due to lifestyle factors such as long working days, being seated for long periods of time, and mental health aspects, to name just a few."

Practice means progress

"Like any other sport or discipline, to become better at Pilates you must practice. I’d say to start twice a week to get to grips with the apparatus and get oriented with the workings of the reformer machine. But then, the more you can practice the better you will become.

"Pilates is laced with technical term and movement choreography which at the start can seem daunting. But in time, as you become more familiar with the Pilates method, you'll be moving using the deepest muscles of the mind and body that you didn’t even know you had."

Breathwork is a priority

"Holding the breath is a common mistake. Breath is one of the six Pilates core principles and we encourage breath with the movement. Breathing is proven to help engage the deeper abdominal muscles, lower blood pressure, and it helps to bring one's focus from the mind to the body."

Pilates is suitable for all

"Pilates is for anybody and everybody - and the reformer doesn’t discriminate; it's there to help us all.

"From rehab clients that needs the support of the springs to enhance their recovery, to desk workers that sit too much, pro athletes and anyone on a pre- or postnatal fitness journeys. Reformer pilates is complementary to all lifestyle."

The best reformer Pilates classes in London

Frame

Frame, London’s original pay-as-you-go boutique fitness studio, offers various reformer Pilates classes at its multiple London locations. Anyone pre- or postnatal should book the custom reformer Pilates classes within their MumHood branch. It’s ideal for helping maintain muscle tone and to strengthen the legs, glutes, shoulders and back to limit aches and pains throughout pregnancy and beyond.

Equinox

Offering a mix of classical and modern Pilates, Equinox has pristine studios, elite teachers, and top-notch equipment. Its mission? To “tighten what’s loose and loosen what’s tight”. One-on-one sessions are also available. (Members only.)

Nobu Pilates

Nobu Hotel London Portman Square presents another premium reformer offering with the first Nobu Pilates studio. Visitors can book on demand to enjoy one of three signature styles taught on the reformer: Power (which is HIIT-style), Precision (focused on sculpting) and Pure (prioritising posture) in a group or private setting. Expect an elevated experience all round.

Heartcore

With various studios across the capital (all of which are beautiful), Heartcore’s method combines the discipline of dynamic Pilates with the wisdom of yoga. Taught on the Coreformer (a specific type of reformer), classes are slow and controlled but challenging, promising physical and mental transformation.

Ten

Ten has been in the reformer Pilates game since it took off in London and has honed its class offering to please all. Sessions range from beginners-focussed to those suitable for intermediate and advanced abilities. Plus there are cardio and circuit versions, stretch sessions, and options for pre- and postnatal clients.

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