Period Pick–Me Up: Reviving Reformer Pilates
We’re all for trying out new things at PP, especially when it comes to keeping fit. The most common reason for giving up on an exercise plan is boredom after all, so why not prevent this by mixing things up – take a new class at the studio or gym, hit the pool, find out what’s going on in your local park – anything to avoid getting in a rut. Also, for that ‘urgh’ feeling that arrives with your period, a break from your usual fitness routine can motivate you to get your ass off the sofa and get moving. Your body and mind will thank you, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. So practicing what we preach, this week we tried out a beginner reformer pilates class for the first time…
What’s the hype?
At first glance, the reformer pilates machines look, in a word, scary. All sliding carriage, levers and straps. But there’s a reason the freaky looking bed exists; it ramps up all the benefits to be had from regular pilates (of which they are tons). The resistance from the reformer machine offers way more resistance than your body weight on a mat, resulting in a strong core and leaner body in possibly a much faster time. Gywneth Paltrow, Karlie Kloss and Kate Hudson all credit reformer pilates for their long and strong bods. Sign us up!
The PP experience:
I’ve tried a mat pilates class a couple of times before, and am also a regular yoga-goer (very much a fan of a stretch) so I was excited to get on the reformer pilates machine and see what it was all about. The Move Your Frame Studios is a compact but stylish studio in Shoreditch, East London and its basic reformer class acts as a segway into the regular, dynamic and advanced reformer classes. A taster, to see if it’s your thing. The basic session leads you through the workings of the machine and exercises with the instructor on hand to modify and tweak your position as you go. My class was led by Chrisen, an upbeat Aussi guy in a headband who would holler “awesome ladies,” throughout the class. There are only eight beds in the studio, and the class was half full. Because of this, the vibe was relaxed enough to shout out if you didn’t understand something the first time around. Chrisen talked us through the colour coded spring system on the beds. In a nutshell, he’d shout out a colour, and we’d take off or put on a spring on the machine accordingly, which would add or reduce the resistance we’d feel with our bodies. We then worked through a series of moves that saw us standing on the carriage and sliding it backwards into lunges, lying down and moving the bed forward and backwards with our leg strength, and doing arm stretches while holding onto the straps. It was definitely harder than it looks, and your body has to work to resist the weight of the machine. The next day, I could feel the work I’d done in my thighs and calves and I felt longer and stretched out – I’m keen to get back to the studio for another session to build on what I’ve learnt on the bed already.
The hour was over before I knew it, proving that time does actually fly when you’re concentrating and learning a new skill. My favourite reformer move saw me flat on my back, legs in straps, gently stretching my thighs wide, wide apart. This was a lovely hip-opening exercise that really helped with the bit of cramping I had in my lower tummy and back.
Worth a mention:
It’s sensible to take at least two-four basic classes before you challenge yourself in a regular class where the pace is much faster. It’s worth making sure you’re comfortable on the machine and familiar with how it works so you can get the maximum benefits without being left behind. I can imagine this could easily happen as there’s a lot to take in for the first time.
4/5 – For an interesting, all over body stretch
Move Your Frame’s basic reformer class is £20 for 60 minutes, moveyourframe.com
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