21 Jun 2018

Beginner’s Guide to Reformer

We challenged long-time PFI member, Consultant and self-confessed “Pilates Groupie”, Carly to step outside her comfort zone, give Basic Reformer a go and document her observations along the way.

I love matwork; like, really love it. But I must admit I’ve always been curious about Reformer and all its gliding, lithe, bendiness.

What has stopped me doing a class? Truthfully, there are a bunch of preconceptions that held me back and I was pretty much wrong on all counts. Misconceptions dispelled below:

You have to have advanced Pilates skills to do Reformer.

Not true.

“Basic Reformer” is exactly as the name suggests: no experience necessary. You don’t even have to be familiar with the Pilates Method. At PFI this is a true entry level class, and classes are kept small so your Instructor can meet you wherever you are in terms of fitness level and familiarity with the apparatus. The attention to detail and care shown for clients in these Basic classes was wonderful: a great place to start.

The Reformer looks scary and complicated.

Can anyone say, “medieval torture chamber”?

It’s not as scary as it looks, I swear.

In Basic Reformer your Instructor will take time at the beginning of class to show you the ropes (literally and figuratively) and help determine the right settings for your body.

You are not expected to know what to do or how to do it from the get-go! It’s a learning process and you’re all in it together. Take your time and ask for help if you need: and do as many Basic level classes as you need to feel confident with the hardware!

You need to be coordinated/have good balance.

The fear of looking foolish is very real, but don’t let it deter you! If you follow your Instructor’s alignment and technical cues, Reformer requires little more balance or coordination than your average Matwork class!

But can I get a good work out?

I was skeptical. Creating challenge on the Reformer is different to the Mat; and so is how you feel the work in your body.

You’re learning how to hold your body in space relative to a machine, and work with the feedback from moving parts: it is different, in a really cool way! I can now confirm there’s one hell of a workout to be had when you find your groove. With time and familiarity with the repertoire, techniques and cues you certainly find greater confidence and freedom to push yourself!

You can’t do Reformer if you have an injury.

Just as in Matwork, your Reformer Instructor can scale or adapt repertoire to accommodate niggles and or sore spots: within reason! PFI will advise against practising any form of Pilates if you have an active (acute) injury.

Always let your Instructor know if something doesn’t feel right and they will work with you to find a safe alternative that works for your body. (Again, the beauty of the small classes!)


After four Basic Reformer classes over two weeks, I get it – the Reformer love is real! It feels amazing in your body and has been an excellent addition to my existing Pilates-mix and something I will continue.

There’s no substitute for quality: at PFI they’re not going to tell you to do a bunch of Pilates-ish exercises on a machine, these guys are the real deal – they’re pros. Their cueing is exacting, smart and empowering for clients. Every one of us left class confident and feeling like we’d learned something new that we’d bring back to our next class and build on. (If you ask me, how it is delivered is a significant factor in the addictive quality of the format!)

If you’ve ever been curious about trying Reformer, I hope this has helped dispel some of the common misconceptions. Now don’t wait, go and book a Basic class today!



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