I <3 REFORMER 4EVZ
Looking back at my workout class attendance for the past 12 months, I don’t think I’ve done a horrendous job. Of course there was August when I was struggling to finish writing a book and didn’t leave the house for 10 days, or this past Wednesday when I went to a class after a liquid lunch and almost spewed in front of a fully-booked crowd. But, on the whole I’ve attended Reformer Pilates pretty regularly over 2018; keeping up with my three-times-a-week goal, sometimes more or sometimes less, which pretty much balances out.
Here’s the thing with working out. You have to enjoy it. If you don’t then regular attendance is a distant dream that you’ll really have to drag yourself along to get to. I wouldn’t say that I’m a naturally sporty person, but since we moved down to Brighton almost four years ago now, I’ve kept up pretty solidly with some kind of workout routine. First it was resistance training with a PT at the gym and now it’s Reformer Pilates classes and the running theme, aside from the fact that both were and are easy for me to get to so don’t take a huge chunk of time out of my day (a very important requirement for workouts in my eyes), is that at the time of doing them – I enjoy it! I don’t clock watch, really try my hardest and it feels fun. 2018 was the year that I cancelled my gym membership as I really wasn’t feeling it anymore, and committed fully to Pilates and I couldn’t be more chuffed…
I thought I’d snap some pictures at my local studio (thank you Brighton Pilates Studio for letting us have a mini photoshoot between classes!), as you lot as always asking what it looks like and what the classes entail. I get the intrigue because upon first inspection the equipment can look a little ‘PVC catsuit in a dark red-lit room‘ – right? However the moving platform that’s secured by springs with varying resistance is my workout sweet spot. The resistance provides the ability to improve strength, whilst also challenging my rigid ol’ limbs and teasing out more flexibility from them – little by little.
You can lay on the moving carriage, kneel on it, sit on it with your feet facing the bar of the back of the machine, you can stand on it, you can sit on the bar and push the carriage out with your feet, or your hands – the possibilities mean that no class is ever the same and you’re always learning something new. It’s almost two years now since I began Reformer Pilates classes and every week there’s a new move to give a go. It’s teaching me balance, the importance of breath (sometimes when I do a deep breath in class my back pops and it feels like heaven), improving my core strength and building muscle in a functional and balanced way. It’s a workout, but it’s relaxing too. No thumping music, just a flowing movement that’s sometimes really bloody hard, but often feels gooooood. It’s a chance for me to not look at my phone for a whole hour and both physically and mentally unwind. Ultimately I feel more relaxed than ever and happier in my body than ever and that’s worth the class fees alone.
So what are my fitness plans for 2019? Well, pretty much more of the same. If you can’t already tell from this post, I really, really enjoy Reformer Pilates and don’t see that changing anytime soon. The studio is so darn convenient for me, the classes often fall around lunchtime so force me to step away from my desk and I feel like the classes are delivering the results that I want. I even have Pilates buddies and sometimes Mark pops along with me too which is always fun. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and all that.
One thing that is going to change though is this fitness tab. You see there’s not really that much to update you on because all I’m doing is trundling back to and from Pilates, wearing the same ol’ workout clothing (Sweaty Betty and Lululemon are THE ONES) and still eating a large proportion of Quality Streets. So in the new year all my fitness bits will be posted in my ‘life‘ tab and this one will change to cover a topic that I talk about all the darn time and hopefully makes some of my previous blogs easier to find. In the meantime if you fancy giving Reformer Pilates a go – have I droned on about it enough? – here’s my advice for beginners…
MY TIPS FOR STARTING REFORMER PILATES
Do your research. Studios vary in what type of classes they offer, whether it be just mat Pilates, Pilates Equipment classes (which are taught on all kinds of Pilates equipment, often including the Reformer), or Reformer Pilates. Some have multiple machines so can offer group classes, whereas others will just offer one-on-one tuition. Have a search around and find a studio that offers the type of class you want, in the set-up that you feel most comfortable with.
Beginner level. Even if you feel like your level of fitness is up to scratch, start with a beginner class just so you can get used to how to set-up the machine, change the springs, get the straps on your feet and get on and off the machine without flying halfway across the room. Everything is easy enough to pick up, but having that base-level knowledge of the machine and correct form comes in so handy when you get to the trickier stuff.
The pace. Every studio is different and every class is different; so experiment to find the perfect combination for your needs. Having an Osteopathy practice on-site means that the studio that I attend has a emphasis on release, breathing and flexibility which is wonderful because I can finally touch my toes. I’ve worked my way up to Level 3 classes, so it’s hardcore in places, but feels relaxing in parts too. Whereas other classes I’ve taken at other studios have been more HIIT-based or focus more on a particular muscle group and have felt more cardio-heavy.
Find the right teacher. The pace of the class is ultimately set by the instructor, so try to test out as many ones as you can to get a feel for each one. I visit the classes of most the instructors at the local studio; some offer more intensive classes which leave me dripping with sweat and others are slower-paced but leave me able to put a whole flat hand on the floor at the end when I bend over (BIG NEWS GUYS!!!), I like the mix of them all. It’s nice to switch it up and means that each time I go I’m doing something a little bit different. My favourite teachers includes ones that play good music, allow plenty of time for short spine (a.k.a the nicest Reformer Pilates move) and give me the occasional foot massage (thanks Ulala!).
Photos by Emma Croman
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