Now Experiencing: Reformer Pilates - The Bend Magazine

Now Experiencing: Reformer Pilates

There are a handful of local studios that offer Reformer Pilates lessons, here are the experiences of two of our team members

Photo by Lillian Reitz

Created in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates, and further developed by his wife Clara, this popular form of exercise has been around much longer than its existence in the mainstream health and fitness world. Though the practice has evolved through the years, the core of its founders’ methods remains at the center of the practice. While Pilates can be done from a mat, the traditional practice takes place on a piece of equipment designed by its creator, the reformer. There are a handful of local studios that offer Reformer Pilates lessons. We sent two of our team members out to different classes to report back on their experience to our readers in the hopes of inspiring your next workout. 

“My only prior experience with this practice was in the form of Pilates Matwork YouTube videos in my own living room. Enter: Studio Be Pilates. The studio boasts an intimate and welcoming atmosphere, which made my first Pilates class less intimidating. I had a private session with the knowledgeable Certified Comprehensive Peak Pilates instructor Spencer Gambill. 

Upon arrival, Gambill and I chatted about my slim familiarity, typical fitness regimen and past injuries as to gain insight into my capabilities. Classes are generally around an hour long and incorporate the entire body. I opted to take the class barefoot, although Gambill did say some wear socks with grips.  

Gambill informed me of the four parts our session would move through, A: Reformer, B: Fundamentals and Mat Work, C: Individual Needs and D: End. Parts A and B – which Gambill explained are interchangeable for intro level one and full level one individuals –consisted of various elements of core strengthening, spinal stabilization and mobilization, breathing techniques, flexibility and strengthening. In Part C, we focused on my hips, a problem area of mine, and lastly in Part D, we worked on opening my shoulders in “Butterfly” on the Tower of Power. 

Studio Be’s approach to personalized private or duo sessions tailored to the individual’s specific needs and goals makes this a wonderful place to begin your Pilates journey and grow further into it.  The studio maintains a rehabilitation and physical therapy aspect to its practices which is great for those looking to increase their mobility or get back into fitness after sustaining an injury. 

Because this was my first experience with the reformer and other equipment used throughout, having a one-on-one session was extremely beneficial. Gambill was with me every step of the way, correcting my form, informing me on terminology, explaining the purpose of each set of exercises and encouraging me with every new movement. I left my session having broken a serious sweat and feeling more mindful of my body in its entirety.”

Kylie Cooper, Editor in Chief

“I have always admired Pilates and it’s something I have longed to be “good” at. Having a background in yoga, I figured Pilates wasn’t too far of a cry from the types of movements and techniques I’d grown to love, especially Pilates on a mat. But it was the reformer machine itself that was new to me, and although I’d participated in one previous introductory session, my recent class at Bayside Pilates still felt like uncharted territory.

First, what I loved about the session at Bayside was the intimacy of the class size. There were six reformer machines total and five students in the Saturday 10 a.m. “Semi-Private” session I attended, including me. 

The class, led by the lovely and highly knowledgeable instructor, Heather McVey, was challenging and engaged the entire body through deliberate, continuous movements. I found the session to be inclusive of all levels with zero judgment and I felt encouraged to go at my own pace, while at the same time supported in the quest to push myself further. 

While the bulk of the class was done on the reformer machine itself, additional props like resistance bands were added to create stability or up the intensity. Two days after the class, it was evident that I “earned the burn.” My body was sore but I felt stronger and more mindful of my posture.  

Pro tip: Even if you’ve taken a class before, I’d suggest arriving a few minutes early to get comfortable with the space, instructor, and the reformer itself. This helped in calming my pre-class jitters. If you are new to the studio but are looking to join a class, make sure to book an “Intro to Apparatus” session before, as Bayside requires this intro to help you familiarize yourself with the equipment and movements.”

Kirby Conda, Senior Writer