How to get a full-body workout with reformer Pilates

Adele stunned everyone with gorgeous pics from Drake’s birthday party this week – and she attributes her newly toned physique to reformer Pilates.

But, before you all start manically booking classes, there are a few things you should know in order to get the best out of your reformer Pilates workout.

Because those machines look like medieval torture devices, so you really want to know what you’re doing going into it.

We asked Justin, the Creative Director of Pilates studio Ten Health and Fitness, to tell us everything a beginner would need to know before booking a class.

‘Quite simply, Pilates can be performed on – and using – a number of  pieces of equipment; the caddilac, tower, ladder barrel the mat and the reformer.

The reformer was the original piece of equipment designed by Joseph Pilates, and after the mat, the most widely used. So reformer Pilates is simply pilates done on a reformer.’

OK great. That clears that up. But there are other terms that you might not be familiar with too – so, what’s ‘dynamic reformer Pilates’?

‘It’s the newest take on Pilates and the one used in one version or another by many boutique fitness providers,’ explains Justin.

‘As the name suggests, it’s a more intense and dynamic version of traditional Pilates.

What is dynamic reformer Pilates?

  • We increase the dynamic flow of the exercises
  • We increase the number of repetitions and level of exertion. By working the muscles to fatigue we grow stronger and adapt faster, and by building strength we can then work harder
  • We focus more on neutral spine to reduce the risk of posture-related injury
  • We add aspects of weights and circuit training into the sessions to increase the heart rate and challenge the body further
  • We make sets longer with less resting time, to add an aerobic component and increase stamina

Ten Health and Fitness

‘It offers all the postural, flexibility toning and injury-prevention benefits of traditional Pilates, but at Ten – I can’t talk about what everyone else does – it goes a step or two further to provide a highly effective, prehabilitative and time-efficient full-body workout.’

That all sounds great and, clearly Adele is a fan. But are we really going to take a popstar’s endorsement at face value? Well, maybe. But Justin has expert insight into why it’s such a beneficial form of exercise.

‘We describe it as “the workout for the way we live now” because it’s ideal for stressed, time-poor, always-on 21st century desk-bound office workers who spend most of their days hunched over a computer.’

Wow. We have never felt more seen.

The benefits of reformer Pilates

Justin has broken down the many benefits into bitesize chunks:

1. It’s great for addressing the postural impact of all that sitting, helping restore our natural spinal alignment and creating a strong, supportive core to prevent or reduce back pain and injury.

2. It’s ideal for the time poor. Although sessions last just less than an hour (including warm-up and cool-down), each one is a highly effective full-body workout.

3. It has loads of benefits for your body, including:

  • Correcting posture
  • Strengthening core muscle groups
  • Improving flexibility
  • Sculpting lean, toned muscles
  • Cardiovascular benefits
  • Boosting the resting metabolism
  • Reducing body fat and helping with both weight loss and weight management

4. It’s prehabilitative, meaning it offers a proactive, preventative approach to body maintenance that will keep you fitter, stronger and active for longer, and will help avoid/reduce the impact of future injury.

5. Focusing as much on quality of movement as on intensity of effort, reformer Pilates requires so much focus, precision and control, that it’s both immersive and mindful, making it a great time-out from day-to-day pressures and stresses.

6.The dynamism and intensity of the workout helps to generate endorphins, increasing feelings of optimism, positivity and well-being. And, because you see the benefits fast, it’s also a powerful way of boosting personal morale and maintaining motivation.

Who can do reformer Pilates?

Luckily, Justin has a really simple answer for this one.


‘The reformer is one of the most effective and adaptable pieces of equipment available, and it’s low-impact so safe for people of all ages and abilities.

‘It can be used for anything from rehabilitation, helping recovery from the effects of illness, injury or surgery, to a highly intense and demanding workout that will challenge balance, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, no matter how strong or fit you are.’

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