Pilates consists of numerous low-impact exercises developed for strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility.
To make the most of it, use of machines is advised.
These machines will help you activate certain muscle groups and increase strength by adding load.
Pilates machines, also known as reformers, exist in different shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same purpose.
To use a reformer, you will have to adjust the load on the springs, position yourself on the moving “carriage” part, start performing desired exercise and match your breathing with your controlled and correct movement.
Start with beginner exercises to learn the technique and avoid injuries, before moving on to the more challenging workouts.
To know more about how to use a Pilates machine, what exactly is it and what to expect, read the following chapters:
What is a Pilates Machine?
So, what is Pilates machine?
Pilates machine, also known as a Pilates reformer machine is a workout device developed especially for Pilates purpose.
This device has a bed-like frame, and a moving carriage attached to this frame. This carriage can move back and forward.
It is attached to the ends with springs, which are there to add more or less load, depending on how you set them. In addition, there is a bar at the end, where you can place your feet or hands, depending of a type of exercises you are doing.
Resistance that is a result of a spring load has a purpose to strengthen your muscles.
This is a base of every reformer.
Now, there are different ones available on the market.
Many of them have additional straps which are there to add load on your hands or legs while you are pulling them during exercise. The bigger the machine, the more options it has.
Professional Pilates studios are usually equipped with high-end Pilates machines which offer endless possibilities. However, home variations are also available, and you can find one which is going to fit into your living space.
The size it their biggest flaw.
This machine is frequently used by people looking for low-impact exercises to recover from an injury. It is also great for those with sensitive joints.
If you are a complete beginner, it would be advisable to join a Pilates class to learn how to use this machine, before you decide to get one for home practice.
Proper body position and alignment are crucial, and it is better to have professional supervision.
There are numerous exercises you can do on a reformer and it can be completely customized for your personal needs. If you are looking for a way to improve your posture, you could highly benefit from it.
Here you can check also more about What is a Pilates Cadillac Machine?
How to Use a Pilates Machine?
Now you know what is Pilates machine …
And the next question I am going to answer is how to use a Pilates machine.
As already mentioned, there are various different exercises you perform on a Pilates machine, and here I am not going to focus on specific exercises and how to properly do them.
Instead, I am going to tell you how to use the machine in general, and what to pay attention too.
Main parts were already mentioned in the previous chapter.
Before you start performing exercises, you should adjust the load. To do it correctly, red the instruction manual at home, or the Pilates instructor will do it for you in the Studio.
There are different springs, usually marked to distinguish them, and you can set the desired one. Setting too high load will not bring fast results. Actually, setting it too high may cause the inability to correctly perform an exercise or that you are unable to do more than just a few moves.
Lighter loads have certain advantages. The lighter it is, the more core stability and body awareness you will need to use, and that can be beneficial.
When you set the load, get onto the machine and try to do a few moves to see does it suit you.
Adjust if necessary.
Make sure you are always in a proper position, to avoid injuries and maximize efficiency.
Depending on a machine type, you will have one or more sets of straps too. Smaller, traditional, and home versions usually have one, while those in studios have two.
Straps have loops in the ends which are there so you can pull them with your feet and arms, to add more resistance. This is great for lower abs exercises. Load can also be adjusted. The perfect load is the one you feel well, but you are able to control your motion without struggling.
Adjust the foot bars so that when you are on your back, your legs are positioned under a 90° angle.
The front platform on the machine is the only “stable” part, and unlike the carriage, it does not move. It is excellent to be used by beginners, if the carriage seems like a too big of a challenge.
When using the Pilates machine, keep in mind the following:
Do not move too fast
Slow and controlled movement, where you feel your muscles contract and you are aware of your body are the way to go. Moving too fast will not do you much good in the long run.
Holding your breath is not advisable. Breathing is extremely important in Pilates.
Do not make large movements in every exercise
Some exercises require full motion, but Pilates is known for activating specific, deep and small groups of muscles, so sometimes very short motion is required to make the most of it.
What is The Best Pilates Machine for Home Use?
Those who have tried working out on a Pilates machine know how good it can be. Naturally, you want to get one to be able to practice at home.
So, how to decide what is the best Pilates machine for home use?
Home versions are smaller and lighter than those used in studios. Of course, if you have enough space, you can buy a large one.
Pilates machines can be expensive, and maybe you do not need the largest and the best model on the market, but you should avoid shady, cheap, versions, made by manufacturers with no reputation.
These are going to be unstable, can break, and you are risking injuries. Working out on it won’t be satisfactory and you will actually lose the invested money.
Pilates machine has to be dependable and stable.
“Balanced body” has different models available, and some are great for beginners. For small spaces, “AeroPilates” has some smaller models. It all depends on your preferences and budget.
If you are an advanced user, you can choose among more advanced versions, which are still small enough to fit into your living room. “STOOT Pilates” has great models.
Do Pilates Machines Really Work?
Pilates reformer machines work very well!
If you are persistent, exercise regularly and make sure you are doing your best to do everything properly, you are going to be very satisfied with the results.
Some people use it to recover after injuries and it has a great effect, but for that, you have to consult with a doctor.
Unlike working out on your mat with just the basic props, reformer will enable you to activate all the muscle groups otherwise hard to incorporate into standard exercises.
Some of the results you can expect are losing a bit of weight, strengthening your body, reducing back pain, improving posture and feeling good in general. You are going to increase flexibility too, which is great for balance and injuries prevention.
Practicing is possible without the machine too, however, it is going to bring you better, and faster, results.
If you want to learn how to use a Pilates machine, my advice would be to join a Pilates class, to learn the basics about proper body alignment and breath under a professionals’ supervision.
When it starts coming naturally to you, you can invest in a home version of a machine, and practice alone.
It has numerous benefits and you are going to be very satisfied in the long run.
When it comes to choosing the right machine, the most important feature has to be its durability and stability.