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There are few things more intimidating to the novice Pilates student than the reformer — even the name sounds a bit medieval — but the truth is that there is no better tool to maximize the benefits of your Pilates work out. Pilates with the reformer is measurably and provably superior for developing muscle strength, improving flexibility, and losing weight. What Is A Reformer? The Pilates reformer is a cross between a rowing machine and a home gym. The user lays on their back, tummy, or knees on a moving part called the carriage, which is housed in a wooden or metal box on rollers. The feet are placed on an adjustable footbar, and straps are available overhead to grasp. The different exercises are based on moving the carriage away from the footbar — a task made difficult because the carriage is actually attached to the footbar-side of the box by springs. The motion can be as simple as pushing on the footbar with your feet, or as complex as steadying yourself with the footbar while you plant one foot on the ground next to the reformer and push the ‘headrest’ away from the footbar with your opposite foot (essentially performing a resisted lunge). The straps can also be run through a variety of pulleys to allow for yet more methods of moving the carriage. Why Use A Reformer? Simply put, the hardest part of novice Pilates is understanding some of the motions involved in some of the exercises, and the reformer is designed to simplify those exercises so that the motions are obvious. The reformer’s added resistance also makes the exercises more effective. One On One Training While it might seem that the reformer is simply an exercise machine, designed to let you do Pilates all by yourself, that’s not the case. Because of the large number of variations on the exercises it is really best to do your Pilates one-on-one with a certified Pilates instructor. Pilates is a very exact form of exercise, and with a trainer offering you one-on-one training, you can be sure that you’re focusing on your personal needs — and that’s the only way to get the most out of every session.