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October 23, 2020 in Blogs

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid To Work The Reformer Like An Ace!

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid To Work The Reformer Like An Ace!

Beginners mistakes to avoid on the Reformer!

If you are just starting out these are some really easy things to get right from the start that will make your Pilates practice easier, safer and more beneficial.  So lets see what these are, the best reformer tips for beginners.

1) Set up of the machine

Tip one for beginners, is you should set-up the machine correctly, there are 2 main things that you use to help do this, the gearbox and also the front carriage stopper.

You need to adjust these depending on your height and your level. If you are tall you are going to want to put the carriage stopper right back towards the risers of the machine (so move the stopper away from the foot bar). This will allow additional room for your legs.

A lot of Reformer machines will also allow you to adjust the gearbox, the further you have the gearbox away from the foot bar the more tension you will have on the springs and the more work you’ll do to move the carriage. Find the right combination for you. 

It doesn’t take long to adjust the reformer in this way but will make a big difference to how comfortable you feel on the carriage and also maximising the benefits that you get from your practice. 

Some reformers you may also need to adjust the long foot straps, this can be done by lying on your back, bringing your legs up into an L position and putting the long straps over your feet.

If you are going along to a studio, take a minute to make these adjustments to the reformer before you start your class, if you aren’t sure how to adjust the reformer ask the instructor.

Lady using the Allegro 2 reformer, in curl up position with hands reaching towards to front of the reformer working the abdominals.

2) Breath – it isn’t too big a deal!

Some instructors will teach with a more rigid breathing pattern but when you are just learning it can be a lot trying to do the exercise, co-ordinate the movement and then you have a breathing pattern to remember on top of this! Sometimes, it’s best just to do some breathing connection at the beginning of the class, this way it settles you into the practice and prepares your body. It can also be nice to add in with some exercises as the curl-up, breathing in and curling up on the exhale. At the end of the class, it can feel good too, to focus back in on the breath.  Otherwise, don’t worry about it too much, you are going to breathe eventually!

3) Spring resistance

This one always catches beginners – a heavier spring doesn’t necessarily mean the exercise is harder!

Tip 3 for beginners on the reformer, is a lighter spring can mean the exercise is harder. This could be when you are doing standing side on leg splits, with one foot on the foot platform and the other foot on the carriage, a lighter spring is harder as you need to control the carriage more and need to work harder to bring the carriage back into the stopper. Try it!

Listen to your instructor for ‘beginners springs’, ‘intermediate springs’ to ensure you are using the right spring weight for each exercise, or just have a play around with the springs!

Springs on the Pilates reformer provide resistance.

4) Working at your level

Pilates like yoga isn’t a competitive sport. You should be working at your own level, it can still be challenging though. Pilates isn’t about how fast you move the carriage either, although for some more cardio based exercises you will. In fact, it’s often about slower and controlled movements on the carriage. Faster movements can bring a loss of control and are not always as beneficial as slowing the movement right down and really feeling and connecting with the body movement. Try it! And as Joseph Pilates himself said:

Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all vital benefits

Joseph Pilates

5) Safety on the Reformer

Last tip on on our list, is using the reformer safely, so you don’t hurt yourself. It’s something that is not always addressed but you can have simple accidents on the reformer which can easily be avoided. The biggest 3 we think are,

1) Changing springs – always put the new spring on before taking the old one off, otherwise, you will have no springs and the carriage will move back, ready or not!

2) Standing work on the carriage – always firstly stand on the foot platform and then one foot on the carriage and always get off the carriage in the same way, bringing both feet back to the foot platform. The foot platform doesn’t move the carriage does!

3) Props – weights, Pilates ring, when you have finished using them put them under the reformer out of the way. There’s nothing like forgetting about your props and then tripping over them!

Lastly, some people feel more comfortable with a pair of grip socks on, when using the reformer. Also, if you go to any kind of group Pilates reformer class, where machines are being shared, it can be more hygienic to use a pair. They are also cheap enough to get, so we think it’s worth the investment in a pair or two.

Group reformer classes with ladies doing leg in straps exercises and wearing Pilates grip socks.

Enjoy your practice! See you on the reformer.

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