When we launched Virtual Reformer on the Mat classes because of the coronavirus, some people wondered how much of a typical Pilates Reformer class feel we could replicate. It turns out that most of the Reformer exercises translate very well to the mat, and the work is both enjoyable and challenging.
Consider that while the springs on the Reformer offer resistance, the apparatus also offers us considerable assistance. On balance, I think the Reformer facilitates our work more than it challenges us, in all but the most advanced moves. Once you take shoulder blocks, a moving carriage, boxes, and straps away, the only thing holding you up is you. It’s easier to rise up into a swan when you have straps to pull or a bar to push against than it is to rely solely on your core and upper back muscles. It’s easier to do leg circles when there is a strap supporting your leg. Stripping these props away will quickly teach you where your power comes from and how to best harness it.
But that’s not all. Some Reformer exercises can be challenging to learn and/or are uncomfortable for many students. It’s hard to do some of the seated arm work without rounding your shoulders forward. It’s hard to perform stomach massage without leaning back or bearing down. With a little imagination on that mat, you can flex your arm muscles without the straps and likely do so with better shoulder mechanics. Similarly, stomach massage on the mat is harder on your abs, but most of my students find it much easier to perform the exercise while maintaining length and lift of the spine. It just feels better.
From the first Virtual Reformer on the Mat class that I taught, I have delighted in watching my students increase their core connections and elongate and decompress their spines over the duration of a session. Better still, they are progressing from week to week. I can’t wait to see these students in a studio Reformer class when we reopen because I am confident that they will they find an internal gear they didn’t know they had.
Leslie C., a longtime student at Holly’s Pilates Village, says she has enjoyed the Virtual Reformer on the Mat classes because they “force me to move in a structured fashion.” She appreciates the focus on each muscle group and the themes for each class, such as releasing tight neck muscles.
Our experiences with Reformer on the Mat will enrich our understanding of good body mechanics long after we end our at-home stays. I hope to incorporate many aspects of the new repertoire into my classes once our studio reopens. In the meantime, please join me for Virtual Reformer on the Mat and see for yourself soon!
About the author: Jessica Goldstein is a certified Pilates instructor at Holly’s Pilates Village. Check out our class schedule.