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Joe Knows Reformers

And You Can, Too, in Our New Reformer Studio

(By Dina Voigt, Holidays 2007 Issue of Fit To Print)


You may have seen the signs, or perhaps you attended the grand opening on November 1st. Either way, I am sure most of you are aware that we have opened our new Pilates Reformer Studio.

What Is a Reformer?

I am continually asked the question, “What is a Reformer?”. Well, since you asked, a Pilates Reformer is an apparatus used to enhance one’s Pilates practice. The Reformer has a movable carriage connected to a spring load system on one end and a pulley system on the other. This spring load system offers a type of resistance known as “progressive resistance.” Pilates is unique in its use of springs as resistance. When the carriage is moved in one direction, the springs provide resistance; when the carriage is moved in the other direction, the springs provide assistance, thus encouraging eccentric muscle activity (lengthening a muscle while actively working it). When the carriage is pressed away, increasing tension on the springs, the muscle(s) contract; as the carriage is returned to the starting position, the tension on the springs is decreased, causing the muscle to relax and changing the joint position, allowing the muscle to stretch more easily immediately after the contraction. This dynamic helps protect the muscles from overstretching, enhancing flexibility without undue pressure on the joint.

When lifting weights, although the resistance remains constant, the intensity at which the muscle is working does not stay constant through the full range of motion due to the changing angle(s) of the joint. There is much debate over which type of resistance is best. Many good points are made in favor of each. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. I prefer working with the springs. I believe they have a more functional effect as they have the ability to simulate many other activities. They truly teach you to go “easy” on the joint and move with control and consistency. There is a strong mind-body connection needed to accomplish this control, which adds to the stress-relieving factor of Pilates.

The fundamental principles of Pilates, which include centering, concentration, stability, control, precision, fluidity, and deep breathing, are applied to all reformer exercises to develop deep muscle control, strength, balance, and flexibility. Finding a neutral, stable pelvis and ribcage stabilizes the spine by engaging the deep core postural muscles of the body. Learning to inhibit certain muscle involvement while enhancing others is key in Pilates. The moveable carriage and the spring load system of the Reformer combine to make the perfect tool to accomplish this task, helping one to gain balance, agility, flexibility, and deep core strength. The addition of the pulley system aids in learning the aforementioned pelvic and ribcage stability (which combine to create spinal stability and neutrality) as well as shoulder stability, strong glutes, and leg muscles. The pulleys help to stabilize the trunk of the body, creating awareness of the center of the body while moving, which allows for the correction of muscle imbalances. Pilates on the mat and apparatus has been proven to aid in changing one’s muscle recruitment patterns. This allows and teaches the bigger, stronger muscles not to “take over” and allows the smaller, weaker muscles to strengthen and develop, doing the job(s) they are meant for. A Pilates workout is unlike anything you have ever done before. Don’t just take my word for it – below are quotes from just a few Fitness Incentive Reformer clients!

Back in 2001, I had my second child. My body didn’t bounce back at 30 like it did when I had my first one at 21. So, when my daughter was eight months old, I joined Fitness Incentive. Right away, I knew it was a good fit. The gym opened early so I could get there before my husband left for work in the mornings, and that was my ‘me’ time. Throughout the years, I’ve tried many different classes. Spin has been a favorite of mine; the dark room and music let me forget life’s craziness for an hour. But earlier this year, I heard about the Reformer classes, and it caught my interest. I’m not a big aerobics class kind of person–my coordination went out the window when I had my kids, but this sounded like it could work. And what made it even better was the fact that Dina was teaching the class. I used to work my schedule around her spin classes because I loved her teaching style, so I was looking forward to trying it. I took my first class and absolutely loved it! The classes are small and very personal, so you really get one-on-one attention. After the first class, I was sore, but in a good way. Pilates works muscles deep within your core that I didn’t even know I had. So here I am, many months and many sessions later, and I’m still getting my fix twice a week at 5:30 AM–and will keep going as long as Dina’s doing it. I’ve lost about 30 pounds since May between spinning and the Reformer classes, and I feel like a new person. The Reformer has totally changed my body. I feel longer and leaner, and my belly has never been flatter than it is today. If you want to try something that’s fun and really makes a difference, get into a Reformer class—you won’t regret it!

  • “TD” – FI Member

I stand straighter and feel taller. My gait is better, and my body is “loose” and relaxed.  

– Jackie McNally FI Member

After each Pilates session, I feel stronger, taller, and ten years younger. I can hardly wait till I feel like twenty again!”

– George McNally. FI Member

Pilates Reformer work is fun, fascinating, and very challenging. The Reformer uses resistance that makes it easy for me to feel exactly how my muscles work during each exercise. And they work hard! I love Pilates because I can see and feel the changes it makes in my body and because as I am getting older, doing exercises with proper alignment and core support becomes more and more essential. I like doing exercises with care and attention instead of just powering through a million reps in a body sculpting class. And the hour with Dina flies by so fast!

– “LS” FI Member


Pilates is a specialty and should be learned from a qualified, certified instructor. We have the best here at Fitness Incentive. Reformer Classes, Private and Semi-Private sessions are available. Pre-registration and payment is required. Inquire at the front desk or email for more information. Sign up today! You won’t regret it!

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