The Pilates Reformer is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that can train the whole body in many different ways. You can be standing, sitting, lying down, pulling the straps, pushing on the footbar, feet on the footbar, hands on the footbar, hands in the straps, feet in the straps – the options are endless!
Whole Body Exercise
Each Pilates workout is designed to train the whole body. There is no "Legs Day" or "Arms Day". Pilates workouts promote balanced muscle development along with flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints.
Attention to the core muscles and full-body fitness, provide a level of integrated fitness that is second to none. It is also the reason that Pilates is popular from rehab scenarios to elite athletes who find Pilates is great cross training for any kind of sport.
Maybe this is the reason Pilates has become so popular with women. In Pilates, you are not looking to build muscles for show. You are building toned muscles that work perfectly within the context of the body as a whole, and the functional fitness needs of people in their every day lives
One of the ways that Pilates creates long, strong muscles is by taking advantage of a type of muscle contraction called an eccentric contraction. This is where the muscle is under load while it is lengthening. This type of training is known to increase muscle strength substantially without an appreciable increase in muscle size.
In Pilates, we work towards increasing the range of motion through the joints. Regardless of your age, most people could improve flexibility in one or more areas of their body. Increased flexibility has the obvious benefits of a more comfortable day to day life and lowering the chance of injury but there is a lesser known benefit of flexibility. Neural tissue flexibility (your nervous system) is also improved along with muscles and connective tissue. This leads to decreased stress levels and can assist in reducing chronic pain.
Almost everyone has heard that Pilates is great for core strength but what does this really mean and why would anyone care? The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. Without our core muscles, we would simply be a blob on the floor. With the modern lifestyle of constant sitting and for many, large amounts of time in front of a screen, our core muscles don't receive much of a workout on a day to day basis. For many, this leads to chronic back pain. Many people receive treatment for lower back pain, when what they really need is treatment for inadequate core strength. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported and the load is reduced on the lower spine. A nice side benefit is that core training promotes the flat abs that we all want.
There has been a lot of information produced about this in recent times. Regular exercise promotes increased energy levels. Getting the blood pumping and the cardiovascular system working is what the body was designed to do. In recent research reviews, researchers determined that nearly every group studied -- from healthy adults, to cancer patients, and those with chronic conditions including diabetes and heart disease benefited from exercise.
Improved Stress Management and Relaxation
Pilates has some direct stress relieving benefits.It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps increase the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Pilates is also meditation in motion. Joseph Pilates called his exercise technique 'Contrology'. As you focus on the breathing, movement patterns and core stability you may find that this focus on a single task soon clears the mind of other stresses in your life and can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.