Lights. Power. Pilates.
Our instructors sure know how to work a reformer. Watch them in the first ever synchronized session.
The lights, music and effortlessness with which our five LA-based instructors move makes Pilates seem almost magical. And maybe it is, but it takes a lot more than the waving of a wand to get to that place, and when you do, it’s well worth the work. Through proper training, Pilates can actually reframe your body, creating a shape that not only looks completely different, but also functions on a whole new level — no matter what your activity of choice.
“Your work on the reformer reframes your body by making you consciously aware of your alignment the whole time,” says Carrie Macy, National Pilates Training Manager who’s featured in the video above along with instructors Christine Bullock, Ashley Hoffman, Lesley Logan and Kathleen Mangan. “You’re getting feedback from the shoulder blocks or the foot bar or straps or springs to tell you if something is out of whack."
For example, say you’re lying on your back on the reformer with your hands in the straps and you attempt to push your arms forward and curl your chest up. If your lats or your abdominal muscles have been developed unevenly, one shoulder will be further forward or you’ll be unable to lift high enough. “It will feel uneven to the client,” says Macy, “And we would correct it by first making the client aware of the issue, and then adjusting the strap or the spring to mechanically put the muscle, or muscles, in balance.”
When you start to train your muscles more symmetrically, it shows you where you’ve been making mistakes in, say, another group fitness class or on the gym floor. “Through repetition you literally relearn how to move,” says Macy. “Your neuromuscular patterns are re-patterned, so when you go out and do whatever you do — whether it’s going to the grocery store, running a marathon or swinging kettlebells — your body remembers how to do that more symmetrically.”
And symmetry is a beautiful thing. First and foremost, all other types of movements or exercises will become more effective. “Pilates teaches you better body positioning, so instead of having to focus on simply holding your posture, your body can concentrate on working the muscles that you’re trying to target with a particular exercise,” Macy says. For instance, if you’re a runner, you’re going to run longer if you keep your body in an upright position. As you get tired, you start to round forward, slowing your stride. “If you train in Pilates, all of your abdominal muscles and your upper back muscles are so much stronger, and you’re aware of holding yourself there, so you can stay upright longer and run faster,” Macy says.
Symmetry also means a pain-free frame — when your body is misaligned, stronger muscles are compensating for the weaker ones, which puts you at risk for injury — and of course, a body that looks the part. “When your body is in balance you’re going to look more proportional — mainly because your posture is really good, so you carry yourself with more confidence,” says Macy. “Your muscles also develop evenly so you will literally see a more symmetrical shape in the mirror.” Ah, the Holy Grail: the Pilates body.
Video by Project Dstllry.