Pilates reformers are the most popular piece of equipment used in Pilates and are tremendously beneficial in increasing strength, flexibility and balance. Reformers are used by pushing and pulling a platform against a spring resistance in a seated, standing, or upside-down position while controlling the movement backwards or holding it in place. With the infinite ability to adapt, Pilates reformers continuously provide a new challenge for any experience level.
Underneath your reformer’s carriage are an assortment of springs that attach into a metal bar. Just as each of our bodies have their own unique characteristics, each reformer spring has its own distinctive attributes that vary depending on the manufacturer of the reformer you are using. The springs allow you to increase or decrease resistance from light, medium, or heavy as you move through your workout.
With a variety of options available, how do you decide which springs are best for you? The tension of the springs on your Pilates reformer should allow you to perform each exercise with control, stability, and confidence. Appropriate spring tension can vary depending on your height, weight, skill level, and more. If you do not feel as though you are accomplishing the objective of your exercise, it may be time to adjust your springs.
To determine spring resistance, you will first want to see if your reformer’s springs are color coded. This will help you determine which springs are heavy, medium, and light. Since the function of springs varies between manufacturers, identical colored springs may represent a different resistance on each reformer. Reformers without color-coded springs have equal tension across all springs.
Another variation is the number of springs your reformer has. Some reformers will have five springs while others have four. Knowing the total number of springs and their placement within the gear can make a difference in feel and performance. Ask your instructor if you need assistance in choosing appropriate springs for you. If you choose to change springs on your own, always add before you remove.
Here are a few popular reformer types and their springs:
These reformers include up to five different colored springs that vary in resistance.
These reformers include four springs that are the same resistance and color. Gratz® Reformers are similar to the original equipment first used in Pilates.
Similar to Balanced Body® Reformers, Peak Pilates® Reformers include five springs that vary in resistance based on their color.
These reformers include five springs that vary in weight. Four of the springs are full-weight and one is half-weight.
These reformers include four or five cords that are equal in tension. Each cord can be traded out for a red cord to double the weight or a yellow cord to make the weight lighter.
When considering the use of springs, remember to think about your personal connection, including knowledge, skill level, precision points of each exercise, and continued exploration of Pilates within your practice. Contact Sunset Beach Pilates to learn more about the Pilates reformers in our studio and how you can set yours up at home