Reformer Pilates is a form of exercise that emphasises the importance of core strength, flexibility and body awareness in order to achieve a carry-over effect into daily function. It was developed by Joseph Pilates during the 20th century as he believed that injuries were caused when a person had a weakness or mal-aligned area, causing you to then over-compensate with another area of the body. He developed Pilates as an exercise to address these imbalances in the body.
How is reformer Pilates different to regular Pilates I hear you ask? They both share the same goal of improving strength and flexibility; however reformer Pilates are practiced in a Pilates Studio and involves using spring-loaded machines that are specifically designed to support your body weight. Specific exercises are taught that either provide resistance (thus improving muscle strength) or assists you in gaining a greater muscle stretch (thus improving mobility and flexibility). In contrast, regular Pilates (matwork Pilates) involve exercises on a mat, where the main theme is maintaining core stability combined with appropriate breathing control. Regular Pilates is usually best for beginners and you have the benefit of being able to practice it at home or in regular gyms.
Pilates is a great low-impact exercise, and benefits anyone wanting to improve their core stability, flexibility, overall strength, posture, as well as gaining toned muscles. Improving core strength can benefit anyone with:
Chronic back/neck pain
Athletes or anyone wanting to correct muscle weakness/imbalances
Some exercises can be safe during pregnancy (but check with your instructor and doctor first)
So in a nutshell, everyone can benefit from Pilates, whether it is reformer or matwork, and is becoming increasingly popular in Australia.