Pilates is pretty popular right now, most big box gyms offer Pilates mat classes and some have reformers too. There are also more boutique style studios popping up all over because we just cannot get enough of this wonderful form of movement!
Where did all the fuss begin?
Joseph Pilates was a small and sickly child and as he grew, he taught himself how to get stronger physically and was able to overcome asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever, which he was afflicted with in his youth. He was influenced by gymnastics which he practised (his father was a prize-winning gymnast!) along with boxing, skiing, diving, yoga, martial arts and bodybuilding. These days, you’ll find a lot of traditional Pilates movements changed either a lot or a little either due to instructor creativity, modifications given to individual bodies or contemporary Pilates styles. Pilates is designed to help correct muscle imbalances, build strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, breathing capacity and organ functions. Joe continued to develop his method and create new gadgets and inventions until he passed away in 1967.
Matwork Pilates vs Reformer Pilates
So what is the difference between Matwork Pilates and Reformer Pilates? Traditionally, mat classes are a dynamic and challenging routine of set exercises created by Joe. Mat classes are performed on the floor and sometimes combine small props as an aid or to intensify the work.
Depending on where and who you are practising with, a mat class can have a slow, controlled class with more focus on stretching or it could be more aerobic with high repetitions. Mat classes are designed to build strength using your own body weight and require a lot of body awareness to perform movements accurately.
Reformer Pilates classes can also include props but are usually in a smaller group setting. In a clinical setting, one on one or small group sessions usually combine the use of reformer, mat and other Pilates apparatus to suit the individual. There is also the growing popularity of a larger group.
What is Pilates Reformer?
Pilates which is more fitness based. This style is so popular because, let’s face it, practising on the reformer is pretty damn fun! There’s something about the sliding carriage and springs that delivers a lovely gliding movement that feels amazing; can be incredibly challenging sometimes and very therapeutic at other times. Reformer apparatus styles all vary slightly however they all have:
- pulleys, ropes and straps
- moving carriage
Movements created on the mat can also be performed on the reformer however, the feeling can be very different in the body as spring tension and a sliding carriage can challenge stability substantially, placing a different spin on the movement. Personally, I found that once I developed a good practice on the reformer, I felt more confident on the mat and enjoyed the repertoire there much more than I did initially, I’m going to be honest – matwork done correctly can be so hard!
I’ve found that sentiment repeated through my clients’ reactions to their first experience on the reformer. Every week, I hear how surprised they are at how enjoyable the reformer is to use. We have many clients who DO NOT love exercise, but they do love practising Pilates on the reformer.
That says a lot to me – if you enjoy the movement, no matter what it is, you will do it consistently and that is what is important. So the moral of the story is if you love matwork and/or reformer Pilates – do more of it! They were both created by the same cool guy who was passionate about living life to the full and improving body and mind to be all you can be.
Want to learn more about the classical style? Come along to our workshop on April 21st 2018 – Deconstructing the Movements with Rafael and me! Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.
For a more in-depth look at the beginnings of Pilates check out this post by Jillian Hessel
Belinda Survilla is the Pilates & Co. studio manager and takes regular classes at the Miami studio, including orientation.