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Basic Reformer

Basic Reformer
A Beginning-level Users’ Manual
Basic Reformer
A Beginning-level Users’ Manual

Copyright © 2005 by Tom Floyd

All rights reserved. No part of this manual shall be re-distributed or used in other publications
without authorization from Pilates Connections.

Disclaimer
The author of this manual has graduated from two different comprehensive Pilates certifica-
tion programs. The author has taken due dilligence to not use or reveal copyrighted, trade-
marked, or otherwise proprietary information of any kind from these programs. Any
resemblance of the instruction within to any other program of instruction is coincidental and
reflects the fact that Pilates is a generic discipline, not owned by any individual or organiza-
tion. It is inevitable and unavoidable that one course of instruction will contain resemblances
to others.

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Contents
Introduction 1
Who Should Read this Manual 1
Home vs. Studio Reformers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
There is more to Pilates than the Reformer! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
What this manual is not . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Reformer Safety and Maintenance 2
Organization of this Manual 3
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Technique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Transition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Pilates Principles 4
Breathing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Centering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Concentration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Precision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Basic Reformer Progression 7
Basic Reformer Exercises 8
Footwork 8
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Technique – Toes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Technique – Arches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Technique – Heels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Technique – Tendon Stretch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Transition to the Hundred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

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The Hundred 12
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Technique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Transition to Leg Circles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
Leg Circles / Frog 15
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Technique – Leg Circles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Technique – Frog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Transition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Stomach Massage 18
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Technique – Round Back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Technique – Straight Back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Technique – Reach Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Technique – Stretch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Transition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

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Short Box 21
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Technique – Round Back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Technique – Straight Back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Technique – Side-to-Side . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Technique – Twist and Reach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Technique – Tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Transition to Elephant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Elephant 27
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Technique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Transition to Knee Stretches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Knee Stretches 29
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Technique – Round Back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Technique – Arched Back . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Transition to Running 31

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Running 32
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Technique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Transition to Pelvic Lift . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Pelvic Lift 34
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
Equipment Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Exercise Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Repetitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Technique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Essential Ingredient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
Pitfalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

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Introduction

Introduction

Who Should Read this Manual


This manual is for Pilates practitioners who wish to deepen their experience on the Reformer.
It is not meant as a complete substitution for learning from a skilled, comprehensively certi-
fied Pilates instructor. You simply cannot effectively learn Pilates without the instruction and
feedback from an expert.
But, all the better if you own a Reformer and practice at home between your studio ses-
sions! This manual will serve as a ready guide in case you have forgotten an exercise or a spe-
cific cue.
You do not need to own a Reformer to benefit from this manual. If you take private ses-
sions at a studio, or attend a group Reformer class, reading this manual can help you improve
your exercise performance. In particular, it can stimulate questions that your trainer can
address.
Home vs. Studio Reformers
This manual illustrates the use of a full-sized studio Reformer. If you own a smaller “home
version,” some modifications in exercise setup or performance may be necessary.
If you are contemplating a purchase of a Reformer, consider the maxim that “you get what
you pay for.” If you purchase a full-sized studio Reformer from a major manufacturer, you
will be far more satisfied, learn the exercises more efficiently, and own a furniture-grade piece
of equipment that will last a lifetime. Consider it an investment for a lifelong fitness program.
There is more to Pilates than the Reformer!
Keep in mind that the Reformer is only one piece in a multi-faceted system of exercise. Opti-
mal progress and benefits depend on doing matwork, as well as training on the other pieces of
studio equipment. Pilates is an integrated discipline, meaning that the individual parts of the
system add up to a greater whole than is possible than practicing merely one part.
So, even if the Reformer is the only piece of equipment available to you, at the very least
incorporate matwork into your workout. All the better if you can add a chair and trapeze table
(or wall unit) to your home studio.
What this manual is not
Studying this manual will not qualify you as a Pilates instructor! There is only one way to
become qualified as an instructor, and that is to enroll in a comprehensive certification pro-
gram that ordinarily requires 600 - 800 hours to complete. You would not read a book on
karate, and then call yourself a martial arts trainer! Likewise with Pilates.

Page 1 of 35 Who Should Read this Manual


Introduction

Reformer Safety and Maintenance


Because the Reformer is a moving piece of equipment with straps, springs, and other accesso-
ries, accidents can happen. Ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of others, by observ-
ing the following principles:
• Regularly check hardware to ensure connections are secure. The hardware that connects
the foot strap to the frame (to secure the feet for the Short Box series) is especially prone
to become loose.
• Ensure that the footbar is well seated into position. The supporting bar must be firmly
seated on the appropriate ledge.
• When not in use, ensure that the springs are attached to the carriage. This prevents an acci-
dent if an unwary individual should sit down on the carriage.
• When using the Short Box, ensure that the back edge of the box is between the shoulder
blocks and metal hocks. This prevents the box from slipping off the carriage while in use.
A tall individual may have to set the Reformer to a higher gear in order to straighten the
legs.
• Do not straddle the Reformer with your legs, as it puts legs and groin in a vulnerable posi-
tion.
• Always bring the carriage in to the home position before changing a spring.
• Always remove all springs before changing the gear. Ensure the gear is firmly set into
position before attaching the springs.
• Be sure the gear block is in the correct position.
• When using the straps, make sure there are no twists.
• Regularly check the straps for evenness in length. If uneven, adjust the strap mountings
under the carriage.
• When using the long strap extensions, ensure the hardware is facing the outside, so they
stay away from the feet.
• After each use, spray the upholstery with a diluted disinfectant, and wipe it down thor-
oughly.

Page 2 of 35 Reformer Safety and Maintenance


Introduction

Organization of this Manual


The presentation of this manual breaks each exercise down into the following categories:
Purpose
One or more statements summarize the basic purpose and benefits of the exercise.
Equipment Setup
Reformer work begins with the correct setup of the equipment. Failure to do so will result in
an inability to properly execute the exercise. Realizing during an exercise that the equipment
is not properly set up results in loss of flow and exercise momentum. Memorize the equipment
settings for each exercise so that the correct setup becomes second nature.
• Footbar: Up, down, or an incremental position.
• Gear: Set to accommodate an individual’s height or special condition concerning knees.
• Springs: 1 - 4 depending on the exercise.
• Straps: Different exercises require a variety of configurations with the straps. Some make
use of the attached wooden handles; others employ the “long straps,” which are short
loops that extend the length of the straps. When not in use, the straps are either resting on
the metal hocks behind the shoulder blocks or simply dropped into the “well” behind the
carriage.
• Headrest: Up or down.
• Reformer Box: When in use, set on top of the carriage either in long or short configura-
tion. Basic Reformer employs the “Short” box only.
Exercise Setup
This is the initial position the body assumes before movement begins. Ensure correct place-
ment of the body to allow for optimum performance of the exercise.
Repetitions
Pay strict attention to the prescribed number of repetitions. Nothing is gained by exercising
past the prescribed limit. In some cases, tempo will increase during the second half of the rep-
etitions.
Technique
“Technique” refers to the basic instructions of the exercise. To facilitate learning, all cues
have been carefully separated from the technique. Once the technique is understood, add the
cues that follow to deepen the work.
Essential Ingredient
The “Essential Ingredient” is the one cue that most clearly captures the essence of the exer-
cise. No other cue matters if the “essential ingredient” is missing.
Tips
The “Tips” are additional cues that deepen the understanding of the exercise. It is best to focus
on learning one cue at a time.

Page 3 of 35 Organization of this Manual


Introduction

Pitfalls
“Pitfalls” are common mistakes often made in performing an exercise. Often, the assimilation
of a “tip” will solve the “pitfall” problem.
Transition
“Transition” refers to the flow of one exercise to the one that follows. Every transition
involves “economy of movement,” the eliminating of unnecessary motions. By paying atten-
tion to transitions, we experience a higher-quality workout since we are focused on produc-
tive, goal-oriented movement.

Pilates Principles
Practicing Pilates with correct technique alone will not produce satisfactory results. To gain
the most from the method, you must understand and apply the six principles of the Pilates
method to each exercise.
Breathing
Pilates, as with all movement, begins and ends with the breath. Nevertheless, many people
hold their breath while exerting themselves physically.
As a general rule, we should coordinate breath with movement, inhaling on the lengthen-
ing part of the movement, and exhaling on the return. For example, on Footwork, inhale to
take the carriage out (lengthening), and then exhale to return. If you find the lengthening part
of an exercise too difficult to perform on the inhalation, reverse the breath. The important
thing is that the breath is energizing each movement. If in doubt, just breathe. Never hold your
breath.
To properly execute each exercise, we must not only breathe, but breathe in a particular
way. Ordinarily, we breathe with the use of the diaphragm, the belly “pooching” out with
every inhalation. This diaphragmatic breath is necessary for the majority of our activities, but
it is not the proper breathing technique for Pilates, as well as other rigorous physical activity.
The correct Pilates breath employs thoracic, rather than diaphragmatic, breathing. On the
inhalation, instead of letting the belly pooch out, draw the abdominal muscles in and up,
expanding the rib cage. On the exhalation, continue to draw the abs in and up while expelling
all the air.
By breathing in this manner, you accomplish two things. First, you contract the deepest
abdominal muscles, creating a “girdle” of support and protection around the low back. Sec-
ond, because the ribs connect to the vertebrae, when you expand the rib cage, you also
lengthen the spine. This is why it is preferable to inhale on the lengthening portion of the
movement.
By breathing in this manner, you automatically create the “scoop” of the abdominals that
is important to every exercise. Many instructors say “scoop the abs,” or “draw the naval to the
spine,” but without breath awareness this instruction becomes nearly impossible to follow. If
you do not breath thoracically, you cannot scoop the abs and continue to breathe. The scoop is
then only possible if you hold your breath. Focus, instead, on the thoracic breath; the scoop
will naturally take care of itself.

Page 4 of 35 Pilates Principles


Introduction

Centering
In Pilates, all movement emanates from your center – those deep, core muscles responsible for
stability and posture. By breathing correctly, as explained above, you have already connected
your breath to your center, or powerhouse.
But we must also learn to move from our center. Though every movement involves the
legs, the exercise focus is on the core, instead. For instance, in Footwork, Frog, Stomach Mas-
sage, and every exercise that involves pressing the carriage out with the legs, imagine it is the
abdominals taking the carriage out, and the legs simply following the lead of the abs. So the
exercise order is to draw the abdominals in and up, and then feel the legs press away in
response.
By working “from” our center, we ensure that we move from a stable foundation. We fix
our attention on our core, rather than the legs or other peripheral parts of the body.
Control
As you work from your center, you must also control the movement.
The genius behind the Reformer is that it gets you moving in an anatomically correct man-
ner, under the full support of the apparatus. But then, bit-by-bit, you remove elements of
machine support, so that you must rely increasingly more on your own core strength to supply
control.
Take Footwork, for example. With feet on the secure footbar, there is simply no way you
will lose your alignment during the exercise. You do, though, exercise control by smoothly
pressing the carriage in and out, without banging it. But when you proceed to Leg Circles and
Frog, you replace the stability of the footbar with the instability of the straps. You must con-
sciously control exactly where your legs and feet are.
Your body experiences additional challenges as you progress from supine (on the back)
exercises, to sitting, standing, and kneeling, all of which create unique demands upon the
body. In every new position, focus on maintaining stability and alignment while working
through the correct range of motion.
Concentration
In order to achieve control over your body, you must apply mindful concentration to the task.
Wandering minds produce sloppy movements. Focus the mind to the task at hand.
As a beginner in the Pilates method, you must first learn the technique of each exercise –
the minimal instructions to perform the movement. Concentrate, and ensure that the body is
actually doing what the instructions require – nothing more, nothing less. Then, apply these
six principles to the movement. Finally, once you are practicing the movement with confi-
dence, add the additional cues that follow the technique of each exercise.
Applying concentration to every element of the exercise is harder than it seems. If you let
the mind slip, it may not affect an obvious technique, but did you forget to breathe or initiate
the movement from your center? Mindful attention to every detail transforms the workout to a
true “mind to body” experience.

Page 5 of 35 Pilates Principles


Introduction

Flow
The flow of the work is where we find the artistry in the movement. Pay attention to the tran-
sitions from one exercise to the next. Perform the transitions with no wasted movement.
While performing an exercise, flow one repetition into the next. Keep the carriage mov-
ing, without hesitations and without jerking.
But focusing on flow results in more than artistry or beauty in movement. A proper flow
intensifies the workout. Without wasted movements, the load remains in your core rather than
being lost in the shuffle.
Precision
Precision encapsulates the whole experience, tying all the principles into one. You cannot
flow in your workout if you are not applying the concentration of mind to body. You cannot
control each movement without centering, or working from your core. You cannot work from
your center without proper breathing, and you cannot do any of the above without precision.
The commitment to precision is a state of mind that demands exacting attention to every
detail.You cannot chat your way through a workout. If that is what you want, join the local
health club.
The Pilates method is a precise, exacting discipline, and the mastery of precision will
carry over into daily life.

Page 6 of 35 Pilates Principles


Introduction

Basic Reformer Progression


Exercise Footbar Springs1 Straps Headrest Reps
Footwork (all versions) Up 3-4 On hocks Up 8 - 10
Hundred Down 3-4 Hold handles Up 10 breaths
Leg Circles / Frog Down 2 Long straps on feet Up 5-8
Stomach Massage Series
Round Back Up 4 In well Up 5 - 10
Straight Back Up 3 In well Up 5 - 10
Reach Forward Up 2 In Well Up 3-5
Stretch Up 2 In Well Up 1-3
Short Box Series
Round Back Down 2 In Well Down 3-5
Straight Back Down 2 In Well Down 3-5
Side-to-Side Down 2 In Well Down 3
Twist and Reach Down 2 In Well Down 3
Tree Down 2 In Well Down 3
Elephant Up 2 In Well Up 5-8
Knee Stretch Series
Round Back Up 2 In Well Up 8 - 10
Arched Back Up 2 In Well Up 8 - 10
Running Up 3-4 In Well Up 20 - 30
Pelvic Lift Up 3-4 In Well Up 8 - 10

1. Reduce spring settings if necessary according to individual needs and strength.

Page 7 of 35 Basic Reformer Progression


Basic Reformer Exercises

Basic Reformer Exercises

Footwork
Purpose
• To get the body moving in an anatomically correct manner under the full support of the
apparatus.
• To warm up the body and prepare for the demands of the workout.
• To begin correcting alignment imbalances by uniformly lengthening and stretching the
entire body.
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: High Position
• Gear: Position the gear so that while lying supine, with feet on the footbar, the knees are
above the hip joint. If experiencing knee problems, position the gear so that the knees
remain forward of the hip joint.
• Springs: 3 - 4 (less, if necessary)
• Straps: None in use. Handles should be on the hocks behind the shoulder rests. Ensure the
straps are not twisted.
• Headrest: Up
Exercise Setup
To get on the Reformer, stand with the back of the calves against the frame, aligning yourself
with the front edge of the carriage being even with your center. Step one foot forward, cross
arms in front genie-style, and then lower yourself to the carriage with control (Fig. 1.1).
Lie on the back, head on the headrest and feet on the footbar as specified for each variation
below (Fig.1.2).

Figure 1.1 Figure 1.2


Repetitions
8 - 10 each foot position

Page 8 of 35 Footwork
Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Toes
• Foot Placement: Base of the toes on the footbar, fist-width apart. Heels together and
lifted. Knees as wide as the shoulders (Fig. 1.3).
• Movement: Press the carriage out, straightening the legs (Fig. 1.4). Return the carriage to
home, resisting the pull of the springs. Heels remain lifted throughout the exercise.

Figure 1.3 Figure 1.4


Technique – Arches
• Foot Placement: Arches on the footbar, feet, knees, inner thighs together (Fig. 1.5).
Ensure that the feet do not collapse inward or outward.
• Movement: Press the carriage out, straightening the legs, wrapping heels and toes around
the bar (Fig. 1.6). Return the carriage to home, resisting the pull of the springs.

Figure 1.5 Figure 1.6

Page 9 of 35 Footwork
Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Heels
• Foot Placement: Edge of the heels on the footbar, feet, knees, inner thighs together. Flex
the feet, curling the toes toward the knees (Fig. 1.7).
• Movement: Press the carriage out, straightening the legs, pressing strongly into the heels
(Fig. 1.8). Return the carriage to home, curling the toes toward the knees, resisting the pull
of the springs.

Figure 1.7 Figure 1.8


Technique – Tendon Stretch
• Foot Placement: Base of the toes on the footbar, apart the width of two fingers. Heels
together and lifted. Straighten the legs to press out the carriage. Legs remain straight for
the duration of the movement (Fig. 1.9).
• Movement: Slowly lower and lift the heels, deepening the abdominals in and up while
lowering (Fig. 1.10)

Figure 1.9 Figure 1.10


Essential Ingredient
Initiate each movement from the lift of the powerhouse. Imagine the abdominals moving the
carriage, the legs merely following the lead of the powerhouse.

Page 10 of 35 Footwork
Basic Reformer Exercises

Tips
• Ensure the whole body is centered and aligned on the Reformer: feet centered on the foot-
bar, head and neck straight, shoulders and hips squarely placed on the carriage.
• Maintain a neutral pelvis and spine while pressing the carriage out and in.
• Deepen in and up through the abdominal wall.
• If it is uncomfortable keeping the feet together for the arch and heel foot positions, sepa-
rate the feet a little and place a cushion or soft ball between the inner thighs. Then you can
maintain inner thigh support with feet slightly apart.
Pitfalls
• Initiating movement with the pelvis rather than the abdominals.
• Hunching the shoulders.
• Allowing the feet to wander.
• Losing the support of the inner thighs.
Transition to the Hundred
Lower the footbar with the foot: with one foot lift the footbar up while the other foot pushes
the support bar forward (Fig. 1.11). Then, push the bar forward while reaching hands behind
the shoulder blocks to hold the handles of the straps. Bring the upper arms to the sides, with
forearms and fingertips reaching toward the ceiling (Fig. 1.12)

Figure 1.11 Figure 1.12

Page 11 of 35 Footwork
Basic Reformer Exercises

The Hundred
Purpose
• To advance the mat version of The Hundred by introducing the instability of a moveable
carriage and the opposition of hands and arms reaching long through the resisting straps.
• To continue the correction of alignment imbalances begun by Footwork by uniformly
lengthening and stretching the entire body, without the stability of the footbar.
• To promote deep, full breathing.
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: Down
• Springs: Same as used for Footwork, or less if heavier springs inhibit the vigorous pump-
ing of the arms.
• Straps: Handles held in hands
• Headrest: Up
Exercise Setup
Lying supine on the Reformer, shoulders slightly forward of the shoulder blocks, bring the
knees over the hips (“table-top” position for legs). Bring chin toward chest to lift the head,
straighten the arms long at the side, and extend the legs straight up toward the ceiling (Fig.
2.1).

Figure 2.1
Repetitions
100, five arm pumps per inhalation, five per exhalation.

Page 12 of 35 The Hundred


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique
Reach long through the finger tips, and vigorously pump the arms up and down, breathing
deeply, five pumps per each inhalation, five pumps per each exhalation (Fig. 2.2).

Figure 2.2
Essential Ingredient
Scoop the abdominals in and up while pumping the arms up and down.
Tips
• Focus on the breath. Take full, deep breaths, ensuring that the abdominal muscles remain
scooped.
• To enhance the scoop of the abdominals, imagine a heavy weight pressing into the mid-
section. To support the weight, the abdominals must draw in (navel toward spine) and lift
up toward the rib cage. Further, imagine the weight getting heavier each breath; the
abdominals must work progressively harder to support the “weight.”
• Reach long through the fingertips while pumping the arms. Imagine a wall an inch away
from those reaching fingers and lengthen the arms, wrists, and fingers to reach the wall.
The longer you reach, the less the carriage will move.
• Pump the arms vigorously above and below the abdominal wall.
• Maintain straight arms without flapping the hands from the wrists or the forearms from the
elbows. Feel the pumping motion originate from the strong muscles of the mid back.
• Keep the back of the neck long, gently nodding the chin toward the chest.
• Maintain a stable torso. The only movement should be from the pumping arms.
• For a less intense variation, keep the legs in the “table-top” position (Fig. 2.3).
• As strength allows, gradually bring the legs down to a lower angle. Ensure that the legs go
only so far down that the low back does not arch (Fig. 2.4).

Page 13 of 35 The Hundred


Basic Reformer Exercises

Figure 2.3 Figure 2.4


Pitfalls
• Straining the neck. Maintain length in the back of the neck, but put the head down if strain
continues.
• Bringing the legs down too low, creating an arch in the back.
• Hunching the shoulders.
• Allowing the carriage to move too much.
Transition to Leg Circles
Sit up with both feet on the floor on the same side of the Reformer. Stand up, set two springs,
and attach the long straps to the leather straps, ensuring that the long straps go through both
the handle and loop of the leather strap. Make sure the straps are straight (no twists) and the
hardware is facing toward the outside. Place the loops on the hocks behind the shoulder
blocks, lie supine on the Reformer, and place the loops on each foot, toward the heel.

Page 14 of 35 The Hundred


Basic Reformer Exercises

Leg Circles / Frog


Purpose
• To challenge the body to stabilize from the core, as the feet no longer rest on the stable
footbar.
• To initiate each movement from the core, or the powerhouse.
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: Down
• Springs: 2
• Straps: Long straps attached, strung through both handle and loop
• Headrest: Up
Exercise Setup
Lie supine on the Reformer with long straps inserted on the feet, heels together, toes apart,
knees shoulder-width apart (“frog” position). Ensure the tailbone is in contact with the car-
riage (Fig. 3.1). With heels remaining together, extend the legs to a 45-degree angle (Fig. 3.2).

Figure 3.1 Figure 3.2


Repetitions
5-8

Page 15 of 35 Leg Circles / Frog


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Leg Circles


Bring the straight legs up to a 90-degree angle, open the feet to the width of the frame (Fig.
3.3), and circle them back down to the 45-degree starting point. Reverse directions after spec-
ified repetitions.

Technique – Frog
Bend the legs, bringing the knees toward the shoulders (Fig. 3.4), and then extend the legs to
the 45-degree angle (Fig. 3.5).

Figure 3.4 Figure 3.5

Page 16 of 35 Leg Circles / Frog


Basic Reformer Exercises

Essential Ingredient
Initiate each movement from the powerhouse. As legs reach away from the torso, scoop the
abdominals in and up, feeling the abdominal wall lift and the spine lengthen.
Tips
• Focus on working the legs symmetrically, through a controllable range of motion. If hav-
ing trouble with symmetry, reduce the range of motion.
• Ensure that the tailbone presses into the carriage at all times.
Pitfalls
• Too large range of motion – ensure the legs go only as high as the tail bone stays down on
the carriage (may be less than 90-degrees for some people) and no further than 45-degrees
down (without allowing the shoulder blocks to “snap” the straps). Lateral motion is only
to the width of the frame of the Reformer.
• Lack of symmetry – ensure legs circle in controlled arcs and legs “frog” in and out in a
straight line at a 45-degree angle.
Transition
Hold the loops with hands and remove the loops from the feet, dropping the loops in the
“well” of the Reformer. Dismount from the Reformer, and place a non-slip pad lengthwise in
the middle of the carriage near the footbar.

Page 17 of 35 Leg Circles / Frog


Basic Reformer Exercises

Stomach Massage
Purpose
• To challenge core strength and stability by advancing Footwork and Frog to the seated
position.
• To develop greater core awareness by emphasizing the role of the abdominals in pressing
the carriage in and out.
• Important Contraindication: Stomach massage should not be performed by anyone who
has had a hip replacement. The loaded flexion is much too extreme.
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: Up (if gripping in hip flexors, set to a lower position)
• Springs: 4-3-2, reducing spring load for each version (modify according to need).
• Straps: None
• Headrest: Up
Exercise Setup
Sit near the front edge of the carriage (on a non-slip pad), and bring the feet up to the footbar,
heels together, toes fist-width apart. Placement of hands varies, as shown below.
Repetitions
• Round and Straight Back: 5 - 10
• Reach Forward: 3 - 5
• Stretch: 1 - 3
Technique – Round Back
• Setup: With feet on the footbar, gently clasp the front edge of the carriage with the fin-
gers, holding as wide as possible. Round the spine, widen the elbows, and bring the shoul-
ders in line with the hips (Fig. 4.1).
• Movement: Draw the abdominals in and up, straighten the legs to press the carriage out
(Fig. 4.2), lower and lift the heels, and then bend the legs to return the carriage.

Figure 4.1 Figure 4.2

Page 18 of 35 Stomach Massage


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Straight Back


• Setup: With feet on the footbar, reach the arms back and hold the top of each shoulder
block with the hands, palms facing each other (Fig. 4.3). Straighten the arms, and sit up
tall, lengthening the spine and lifting the chest.
• Movement: Draw the abdominals in and up, straighten the legs to press the carriage out
(Fig. 4.4), lower and lift the heels, and then bend the legs to return the carriage.

Figure 4.3 Figure 4.4


Technique – Reach Forward
• Setup: With feet on the footbar, sit tall, reaching the arms forward and up 45-degrees (Fig.
4.5).
• Movement: Draw the abdominals in and up, straighten the legs to press the carriage out
(Fig. 4.6), and then bend the legs to return the carriage.

Figure 4.5 Figure 4.6

Page 19 of 35 Stomach Massage


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Stretch
• Setup: With feet on the footbar, hold the bar with straight arms, hands in line with the
shoulders (Fig. 4.7).
• Movement: Straighten the legs to take the carriage out (Fig. 4.8), hold the stretch for a
moment, and then bend the legs to return the carriage.

Figure 4.7 Figure 4.8


Essential Ingredient
Initiate each movement by drawing the abdominals in and up. Imagine the scooping abdomi-
nals controlling the carriage: as the abs draw back the carriage goes out, legs simply following
the lead of the powerhouse.
Tips
• Keep the shoulders over the hips (final stretch excluded).
• Keep the knees as wide as the shoulders.
• For Straight Back, use the arms as support, but rely primarily on the lift of the power
house.
• Flow and deepen one version to the next. Feel the abdominal wall lifting and lengthening
with each version.
Pitfalls
• Simply pressing the carriage out with the legs.
• Leaning back, allowing the shoulders to go behind the hips.
• Hyper extending the knees.
Transition
Dismount from the Reformer, lower the footbar and the headrest, and place the Reformer box
in the “short” position between the shoulder blocks and the hocks. Ensure that the box is
squarely seated and against the hocks. Place a Reformer bar on the carriage next to the box.

Page 20 of 35 Stomach Massage


Basic Reformer Exercises

Short Box
Purpose
• To strengthen the core in the sitting position while challenging the powerhouse with flex-
ion, extension, and rotation.
• To lengthen the hamstrings while challenging the core with asymmetrical movement
(Tree).
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: Down
• Gear: In general, same as session began with footwork, but if the legs are long it may be
necessary to set a higher gear so the pelvis has room to move on the box while the legs are
straight.
• Springs: 2
• Straps: None
• Headrest: Down
Exercise Setup
Sit on the box, and straighten the legs with feet flexed under the straps (Fig. 5.1). Ensure that
the pelvis is approximately one hands-width away from the back edge of the box.

Figure 5.1
Repetitions
Round and Straight, 3 - 5
Side-to-Side, Twist and Reach, Tree, 3

Page 21 of 35 Short Box


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Round Back


• Setup: Wrap the arms around the waist, and round the spine. Relax the head forward with
chin toward the chest (Fig. 5.2).
• Movement: Roll back, maintaining a round spine (Fig. 5.3), and then roll forward to
return.

Figure 5.2 Figure 5.3


Technique – Straight Back
• Setup: Sit tall, hold the bar with hands shoulder-width apart, finger tips reaching toward
the ceiling (Fig. 5.4).
• Movement: Hinge back as far as possible without collapsing (Fig. 5.5), and then hinge for-
ward to return.

Figure 5.4 Figure 5.5

Page 22 of 35 Short Box


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Side-to-Side
• Setup: Sit tall, hold the bar high with hands shoulder-width apart, and lean forward (Fig.
5.6).
• Movement: Maintaining the forward lean, reach diagonally toward the right front corner
of the box (Fig. 5.7), and then repeat to the other side.

Figure 5.6 Figure 5.7


Technique – Twist and Reach
• Setup: Sit tall, hold the bar with hands shoulder-width apart, and reach the bar toward the
ceiling (Fig. 5.8).
• Movement: Twist to the right, lean, and reach the right clavicle toward the right back cor-
ner of the box (Fig. 5.9), and then return to the upright position. Repeat to the other side.

Figure 5.8 Figure 5.9

Page 23 of 35 Short Box


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Tree
• Setup: Remove the right foot from the strap, sit tall, and clasp both hands behind the thigh
(Fig. 5.10).
• Movement: Pressing the thigh into the hands, straighten and bend the leg three times (Fig.
5.11).

Figure 5.10 Figure 5.11


Next, sitting tall with straight leg, walk the hands up the leg, draw the leg toward the torso,
and bring the chin toward the chest (Fig.5.12). Hinge back, bringing the leg up, perpendic-
ular to the floor (Fig. 5.13).

Figure 5.12 Figure 5.13

Page 24 of 35 Short Box


Basic Reformer Exercises

Walk the hands down the leg, allowing the torso to come parallel with the box (Fig. 5.14).
To return, bring chin toward chest, reach through the right heel, and walk the hands up the
leg and lifting the torso at the top. After prescribed repetitions, repeat with the other leg.

Fig. 5.14
Essential Ingredient
Ensure the pelvis is firmly anchored into the box, squared and leveled. To maintain pelvic sta-
bility, the legs must actively support the exercise: feet firmly strapped, legs reaching long,
inner thighs engaged.
Tips
• Round Back: Maintain a rounded spine and curl “into” the powerhouse. On the beginning
level, this is a small movement; initially, go no further than half way. As strength
improves, incrementally roll back further, going from flexion to extension (Fig. 5.15).
When taking this exercise into extension, protect the neck by bringing the chin toward the
chest before rolling up.

Figure 5.15

Page 25 of 35 Short Box


Basic Reformer Exercises

• Straight Back: Lift and lengthen the spine. Imagine the spine “telescoping” out of the hips
while hinging back and forth.
• Side-to-Side: While leaning on the “long diagonal,” keep the feet and legs secure, while
feeling equal length in both sides of the torso and equal weight in both hips.
• Twist and Reach: Think of Twist and Reach as the “inverse” to Side-to-Side. Same prin-
ciples apply, except the torso leans while twisting. When twisting, emphasize the lift as
much as the twist.
• Tree: Deepen into the powerhouse while walking up and down the leg. If necessary, per-
form only “Half Tree” by omitting the walking up and down the leg. Ensure that the
strapped leg is anchoring the torso, preventing any rotation of the pelvis.
Pitfalls
• Sinking into the back. Keep the abdominals drawn in and up.
• Feeling the load in the back rather than the abdominals. for each variation, ensure the
movement stays within a range the abdominals can control. If you feel it in your back, you
have gone too far.
• Allowing the legs to move. The legs are like anchors, keeping the pelvis firmly in place
• Side-to-Side is not a side bend. The lateral flexion is from the waist, not the abdominals.
Feel the length of the torso equally in both sides.
• Allowing the opposite hip to come up in Side-to-Side and Twist and Reach. Use the reach-
ing legs to help anchor the pelvis.
Transition to Elephant
Step off the Reformer, and remove the short box. Raise the headrest and the footbar. Stand on
the floor next to the footbar, facing forward. Place the outside hand near the inside edge of the
footbar and the inside foot on the carriage near the outside shoulder block (Fig. 1.16). Repeat
the sequence with the other hand and foot, and allow the head to relax down (Fig. 1.17).

Figure 5.16 Figure 5.17

Page 26 of 35 Short Box


Basic Reformer Exercises

Elephant
Purpose
• To further challenge the core by advancing to the standing position.
• To use the lift of the powerhouse to move the carriage.
• To promote mobility of the legs out of the hip socket.
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: Up
• Springs: 2
• Straps: None
• Headrest: Up
Exercise Setup
With hands on the footbar shoulder-width apart, anchor each foot into the shoulder block. Lift
the toes, pressing the heels heavily into the carriage. Let the head relax down, while rounding
the low back. Lift through the powerhouse (Fig 6.1).

Figure 6.1
Repetitions
5-8

Page 27 of 35 Elephant
Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique
Press the carriage out by hinging the legs out of the hip socket (Fig. 6.2), and then pull the car-
riage slowly in by lifting up through the powerhouse.

Figure 6.2
Essential Ingredient
The lift of the powerhouse – ensure that the rounded low back is the high point, not the hips.
Tips
• If legs are short, place a block in front of each shoulder block, and press the feet into the
added block (Fig 6.3).

Figure 6.3
• Lift the rib cage into the back and remain motionless in the torso.
• Ensure that the low back, not the hips, are the high point.
• Think of the Elephant as a “five count” movement: Take the carriage out on “one,” lift
from the powerhouse on “two,” and slowly bring the carriage in for “three-four-five.” In
other words, “short count out, lift, long count in.”
• Press heavily into the heels and lift the toes. You will work the calves and hamstrings
more fully.

Page 28 of 35 Elephant
Basic Reformer Exercises

Pitfalls
• Allowing the hips to “pike” up, becoming the high point.
• Pressing in and out using the arms and shoulders.
• Allowing the hips to be uneven.
Transition to Knee Stretches
Lower the body to kneeling without moving the carriage.

Knee Stretches
Purpose
• Similar in movement to the Elephant, knee stretches continue to promote the mobility of
the legs out of the hip socket.
• To deepen the connection of the powerhouse to the action of the legs.
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: Up
• Springs: 2
• Straps: None
• Headrest: Up
Exercise Setup
While holding the footbar with straight arms, sit back on the heels (Fig. 7.1).

Figure 7.1
Repetitions
8 - 10

Page 29 of 35 Knee Stretches


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique – Round Back


• Setup: Sitting on the heels, round the spine and draw the abdominals in and up. Maintain
that shape, and bring the hips forward a few inches (Fig. 7.2)
• Movement: Hinging the legs from the hip sockets, push the carriage out the length of the
shins (Fig. 7.3), and then pull it back in.

Figure 7.2 Figure 7.3


Technique – Arched Back
• Setup: Sit back on the heels, lift the chest and look up, arching the upper back, and bring
the hips forward a few inches (Fig. 7.4).
• Movement: Hinging the legs from the hip sockets, push the carriage out the length of the
shins (Fig. 7.5), and then pull it back in.

Figure 7.4 Figure 7.5

Page 30 of 35 Knee Stretches


Basic Reformer Exercises

Essential Ingredient
Hinging the legs from the hip socket. While pressing the carriage out, ensure the hips do not
move. The legs freely move out of the hip socket.
Tips
• The emphasis is on bringing the carriage in. Bring the carriage vigorously in with control.
• Focus on maintaining the same shape for each version of the exercise.
• Maintain long, straight arms without pushing with arms or shoulders.
• Press through the heels to take the carriage out. Pull the carriage in when the legs are per-
pendicular to the carriage.
Pitfalls
• Using the arms or shoulders to move the carriage. The torso should remain motionless
with legs hinging out of the hip socket.
• Too much range of motion. Taking the carriage too far out results in loss of the “power-
house connection.”
Transition to Running
Step off the Reformer, add one or two springs, and then lie down with head on the headrest
and feet on the footbar.

Page 31 of 35 Knee Stretches


Basic Reformer Exercises

Running
Purpose
To stabilize the hips through the asymmetric pumping of the legs.
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: Up
• Springs: 3 - 4 (same as used for Footwork)
• Straps: None
• Headrest: Up
Exercise Setup
With feet on the bar, parallel and heels lifted, straighten the legs to take out the carriage (Fig.
8.1).

Figure 8.1
Repetitions
20 - 30
Technique
Pump one knee up while lowering the opposite heel. Rhythmically switch the legs back and
forth (Fig. 8.2).

Figure 8.2

Page 32 of 35 Running
Basic Reformer Exercises

Essential Ingredient
Pelvic stability. As the legs pump, ensure the hips remain still.
Tips
• For pelvic stability, deepen the abdominals in and up.
• Keep the knees pointed straight up, with heels lowering and lifting in line with the knees.
• Work with a “springy” rhythm.
Pitfalls
• Allowing the hips to sway.
• Loosing the alignment of hips and heels.
• Flopping, or dropping, the heels. Control the lower and lift of the heels.
Transition to Pelvic Lift
Bend the legs to return the carriage.

Page 33 of 35 Running
Basic Reformer Exercises

Pelvic Lift
Purpose
To challenge the core to stabilize the hips.
Equipment Setup
• Footbar: Up
• Springs: 3 - 4 (same as Running)
• Straps: None
• Headrest: Up
Exercise Setup
Place each foot in the corner of the footbar, on the arches with heels angling inward. Without
moving the carriage, roll the hips up off the carriage approximately three inches (or the width
of your fist). Ensure the lowest ribs are pressed into the carriage (Fig. 9.1).

Figure 9.1
Repetitions
5 - 10

Page 34 of 35 Pelvic Lift


Basic Reformer Exercises

Technique
Straighten the legs to press out the carriage (Fig. 9.2). Bend the legs to return, keeping the pel-
vis uniformly lifted. After the last repetition, roll the pelvis down without moving the carriage.

Figure 9.2
Essential Ingredient
Ensure that the pelvis remains uniformly lifted throughout the exercise.
Tips
• Lengthen through the whole body while taking out the carriage.
• Resist the carriage in, using the hamstrings.
• Release all tension in the neck and shoulders.
Pitfalls
• Allowing the hips to sag.
• Hunching or tensing the shoulders.

Page 35 of 35 Pelvic Lift