I’m a runner, and wiggling my feet around in straps on a reformer machine is about as foreign to me as gaming is (no offense, gamers). That said, I noticed an increasing number of gym-goers touting their own Reformer Pilates results — increased energy, strength, muscle tone, and so on — so decided to give it a try for myself.
A little background: I’m a health editor and 8x marathon runner. I have a Boston qualifying PB and deadlift regularly to injury-proof my body but often skip other workouts to fit everything in.
That said, I’ve noticed Pilates exercises slowly creeping into the mainstream over the past few years. Pilates for beginners was growing in popularity, while the likes of Kourtney Kardashian, Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner are all reportedly touting the benefits of Pilates.
Science also backs reformer Pilates as a great way to move; For example, a 2020 paper found it had a positive effect on flexibility as well as heart rate and glucose measurements—surprising, given the fact that it’s a low-impact workout that doesn’t involve traditional cardio.
And, once you wrap your head around the difference between Pilates vs. Yoga (opens in new tab), you’ll discover that Pilates can be a true all-rounder when it comes to core strength and general well-being. Studies have found that it not only improves flexibility, but can also build your abdominal, back, hip and glute muscles. not bad.
I’ve long been intrigued by how effortlessly strong most regular Pilates-goers look emerging after a session. Without Red face or patches of sweat (quite the opposite of my marathon training, I hasten to add). So I took it upon myself to try low-impact workouts.
thanks to the team frame (opens in new tab) – who teaches Reformer Pilates classes in Victoria, King’s Cross, Shoreditch and Angel – I was set. Now, the hard part – actually letting it go…
Reformer Pilates Results: How It Completely Transformed My Body
For those new to reformer Pilates (me), I learned that it’s a dynamic workout that involves you using a (yes, you guessed it) reformer machine — see Harry Styles below.
Invented by physical instructor Joseph Pilates in 1920, just like many other forms of yoga (opens in new tab)There are also several types of Pilates workouts – both bodyweight and reformer. I chose the Reformer because I was fascinated by the machinery and eager to learn a new skill, as well as wanting to see if it was as effective as what I’d heard on The Grapevine.
Reformers are designed to make your Pilates workout more intense. How? By adding different levels of resistance through springs. By using slow and controlled movements, you can strengthen and tone the muscles of your entire body without leaving the studio sweating. I was sold.
While there is a mindful element to Pilates (it’s certainly calmer than high-intensity interval training (opens in new tab)), it’s not just conscious movement (opens in new tab), Far from it: This is actually a really spicy workout, when you get going.
My first class was a little intimidating but also exciting. If you’re worried you won’t be able to get over it or you’ll get that gut-stretching baby-bad-at-pee feeling, don’t be. My instructor Hannah calmly talked the class through which spring to use, where to position my body on the machine, and how to do any number of moves that left me completely bewildered. The pace was slow, and so was the burn, making this an ideal low-intensity sweat session.
I have delayed onset muscle soreness (opens in new tab) (DOMs) from the first session or two, but by leaving a few more days between my classes and getting enough workout recovery (opens in new tab)They heal very quickly.
For two weeks, I actually look forward to my 7 a.m. alarm clock. The classes were completely unlike anything I’d done before and were challenging in new ways.
To an upbeat soundtrack of Dua Lipa and Olivia Rodriguez, we pushed in and out on separate tension springs, moving our feet in circular motions across the straps and generally reducing hip, neck and back tension. From days sitting at a desk not designed for WFH I start to look forward to stretching my tired muscles and anticipate a subtle endorphin post-workout.
The fun fact is that Pilates actually consists of over 500 types of exercises that your instructor will put together in their own unique way, because every session is completely different. It made it exciting and also easier to look forward to, because I never knew what was going to happen in that session.
Week three rolls by in very little time and I try my favorite class yet—Dynamic Reformer Pilates, the most challenging of Frame’s offerings. We’re guided through the session by trainer Poppy at the Victoria studio, and while it’s a real burner, I come out of class with the happy-fatigue-endorphin boost of a session.
Focusing on strength, power, and accuracy in this new way has given me a newfound confidence—I feel taller, tighter, and really look forward to each session.
By week four, I don’t want my challenge to end. Jumping in the deep end and actually getting to Pilates (no, I never thought I’d even be a Pilates person) has proved that you never stop trying something new and fall in love with it. Huh.
The rumors are also true – I’ve definitely toned up my arms, abs and glutes, which were never my main priority, but feel great nonetheless.
I love my weekly Pilates sessions for several reasons. They were clearly challenging my body in new ways, using muscles I had never used before and adopting a new way of training. I loved the relaxed feel of the classes – it wasn’t a HIIT session, and you won’t leave drenched in a sweat, but you’ll leave knowing you got a great workout. And finally, I acknowledged how Pilates made me feel — I was more relaxed, sleeping better, and feeling stronger all around.
Results after one month of doing the Reformer Pilates workout?
So, what did I think of the reformer, and will I continue to practice the workout now that my one-month trial is over?
Ground Level: I loved it. It was challenging and all the rumors about your body changing — and fast — turned out to be true.
How did it make me feel mentally? I would have really loved the more laid back approach. This didn’t mean a less effective workout, mind, just a less mentally draining session. Pilates is about the connection of mind and body, and I really realized that – it’s not about running through 101 reps and making all parts of your body sweat, but making both your mind and body feel good. The trick is to use a slow and steady burn.
a convert? You can say so. will i come back After the next marathon..
Reformer Pilates Example Workout
Try some of the below at home or, if you want to try one of my favorite Reformers Pilates classes in London, go here frame (opens in new tab), heart Core (opens in new tab)either 1 rebel (opens in new tab)Who have just launched a new reformer offering.
1. 20 Minute Pilates Workout With Nicola
2. Lottie Murphy 10 Minute Pilates Workout
3. Sanne Vloet 30 Minute Pilates Workout
This article was originally written in November 2021.