Pop Your Cherry... Reformer Style

Pop Your Cherry... Reformer Style

Curious to try one of our shiny new pilates reformer classes but nervous about what to expect? If you’ve seen videos like this, it’s easy to guess why… You’re not alone in thinking a reformer bed looks more like a medieval torture device than a full body workout machine. But take a peep through the eyes of your inner child and you’ll see it’s more like a piece of playground equipment – it’s there for you to have fun! Come with me to my first ever Reformer Pilates class so you know what’s in store when it comes to popping your reformer cherry…

Full Disclaimer: I have dabbled in mat pilates before. It’s not essential, but it does help when it comes to the whole ‘breathing’ thing. 


To kick things off I was given a gorgeously snazzy pair of black and white grippy socks which took me right back to the trampoline parks of my childhood dreams. (Did I mention I LOVE BOXX MERCH?!) The Boxx Socks help you stay safe and balanced when standing up on the reformer – they also help you look cool and feel confident. 


When I divulged my little secret to Coach Amber (that I’m a pilates reformer newb) it turned out I was not alone! Amber quickly explained to us first-timers the story behind the reformer bed. Joseph Pilates (recognise the name?) was working as a nurse during WW1 trying to rehabilitate wounded soldiers, many of whom were bed bound. Unable to perform standing or matt-based pilates exercises, Joseph did what any sane Doctor would do: he ripped out the bedsprings so his patients could tone their muscles from their beds. Voila – the reformer bed was born! Which made me think: if a battle wounded soldier can manage to use a pilates reformer, then so can I and so can you!


Amber takes us through the anatomy of the reformer bed and it’s so much simpler than I expected. Commonsensical, some might say: the footbar, shoulder rest, headrest, moving carriage, straps and springs. But you don’t need to know any of that to enjoy reformer pilates, because Amber demonstrates every position, move and how to comfortably get into it before the timer starts. The mysterious Pilates Ring? AKA the Magic Circle! That’s one mystery solved – it’s essentially a much easier to use resistance band.


The adjustable springs range from easiest to strongest resistance: blue for beginners, red for raring to go and green for GIVE IT TO ME HARDER. Each ‘round’ per exercise clocks in at 60 – 90 seconds, way longer than the short rounds of HIIT circuits I’m used to. This means exercises that feel ‘too easy’ in the first thirty seconds are giving me Major Numb Bum by the last third, so don’t make the rookie error of upping your resistance too soon if you don’t feel a burn immediately. Wait for the work – it’s coming….


This is one of those workouts where speed does not equal strength. Moves on the reformer bed prioritise absolute control, precise movements and time under tension.The slower you slide through the moves, the more intense the work and the better the results. The amazing thing about the reformer bed is that you can feel exactly which muscles are burning, so you’ll know whether you’re accessing the correct muscles almost immediately. This gives Coach Amber plenty of time to correct your form, as she moves around the room ensuring ankles are in line with knees and hips stay square whilst calling “Lower, lower, lower!” The benefits of this mind muscle connection are endless!


There’s so much more breathing than I expected. You inhale before you move, exhale as you move, inhale again at the bottom of the move, and exhale to return to the starting position. As someone who hates feeling like I can’t breathe / like my chest is on fire / like my lungs are going to fall out of my mouth, being given a rhythm to breathe was game changing. I’m often frustrated when I feel like my muscles could keep going but I can’t suck in enough oxygen – not a problem on the reformer bed, which makes it easy to take your muscles to Shaking Point. If you want to. (You’re also allowed to pause but not stop for a breather.)


The reformer bed is really good at revealing strength and flexibility imbalances in the body – most of us have them! The single-sided moves make it crystal clear if one of your legs or arms is stronger than the other, or if your hip is tighter on one side. Reformer Pilates can be a great way to counter any imbalances to keep you equally strong and flexible on both sides. Amber’s Rules for Rebalancing? Count your reps. This stops you from over training one side (as otherwise you’ll naturally end up doing more reps on your dominant side and exacerbating the imbalance.) 



Don’t be afraid of the bed, it’s here to help you have fun! You’re not going to fall off. (But if you do, just laugh it off and get back on – it’s NBD.)


The arch of your foot never hugs the foot bar! Amber keeps you on your heels or your toes. This is to make sure all the work is happening through your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and core depending on the movement – or if you’re lucky, all at once! 


If it’s your first time too, don’t miss out on our introductory Reformer Pilates offer. You can currently cop your first five classes for just £60 – you’re in good company…

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