Generally, the goal of a mat Pilates class is to strengthen the body's “powerhouse,” a Pilates term that refers to your abdominals, lower back muscles, pelvic floor, hips, glutes and posture. Pilates is a high-intensity, low impact form of fitness. It can aid in flexibility, cooridination, balance, post-injury or surgical rehabilitation and improves posture.
You'll learn the fundamental Pilates movement techniques in Pilates mat classes. Neutral spine, a properly engaged core, c-curve, shoulder and pelvic stability, spinal articulation, full breathing, working with oppositional energy — all are integral to Pilates mat work. Learning these basics on the mat where there are fewer things to keep up with makes it that much easier to use them on the equipment.
Pilates mat work is the basis for the entire Pilates system of exercises. In general, a traditional Pilates mat class will work your legs, stomach, lower and upper back muscles. On the mat, your body weight provides resistance against gravity, making the workout more challenging in many cases. You must be in full control of your body, rather than relying on the assistance or support of the springs and cables of an apparatus. Mat work is a great option for beginners because of its emphasis on learning how to control your muscles during exercises.
But don’t be fooled, advanced mat classes are the hardest because you’re using your body all the time, the reformer isn’t there assisting or supporting you. While doing Pilates on a mat instead of a Reformer may not seem as exciting or challenging, many clients see results (improved strength, posture, agility, flexibility, toned muscles) within just a few mat sessions.
The magic of Reformer Pilates runs so much deeper than a flat tummy. Beyond your toned abs your body will be transformed from the inside out. You will notice the difference in how your body looks and moves, improving your alignment, posture, strength and flexibility.
The calming power of reformer pilates will clear your mind, leaving you de-stressed and relaxed, while taking your body confidence sky high. We only get one body in a lifetime, Reformer Pilates lets us get the most out of it. Here are just some of the reasons I love Reformer Pilates.
The Reformer acts as a support system for the body by helping assist it into proper form. It adds resistance to the Pilates exercises via the use of the springs that form part of the machine. Extra springs can be added to build strength in the bigger muscle groups, or lower springs can be utilised to challenge the stabilising muscles. This means that the intensity can be varied considerably from one person to the next, making it an incredibly versatile piece of equipment to use. This capability, combined with the support afforded by the resistance the machine provides, allows people of all capabilities (including those with limited range of movement or injuries) to safely complete exercises.
Due to the resistance created by the pulley and spring system of the Reformer, the repertoire of exercises available is greatly increased compared to Mat, providing far more variety. You can perform very basic to highly advanced movements in virtually any position on the reformer. The Reformer can also provide a more challenging strength and endurance workout than mat classes, leading to visible results sooner. Basically, you can do more exercises on a reformer compared to a mat and it gives you the option of performing exercises in lots of different body positions, from your back, side, stomach, being seated and also on your feet or knees.
Reformer Pilates is great for rehab purposes too as it allows the client to exercise in a horizontal plane of motion and not be vertically loaded and weight bearing through their legs. For example if a client has had knee surgery or a knee injury, this horizontal plane enables you to strengthen the muscles of the leg through a larger range of motion using a lighter resistance than their own body weight, speeding up their recovery through controlled movement. Another example is someone with scoliosis, they may find it difficult to do Mat Pilates, but with the Reformer they are able to increase their range of motion safely and effectively.