Benefits of Reformer Pilates | Is It Worth It? What Results Can I Expect?

Are you trying to recover from an injury? Are you looking to do more precise core movements with Pilates off the mat? Or have you just heard about the big news about reformer Pilates and you want to know what it’s all about?

Spending money on reformer pilates can be worth it if you are looking to rehabilitate an injury, or if you want to take your pilates training to the next level. However, it’s not the best fitness activity for everyone, and may not be the best option for your individual fitness goals.

As pilates is low-impact, it won’t help improve your cardio health and fitness, or build muscle as quickly as other workout classes. If you’re aiming for higher calorie burn or quick results, consider a more high-intensity training style like HIIT or circuit training

However, there are plenty of health benefits of pilates, including reformer pilates. For those who can’t undertake a more rigorous training program, it’s a great way to tone and strengthen muscles. 

Want to find out more about reformer pilates and if it’s right for you? We’ve got you covered with a handy article about it, its benefits, and how it can help your body.

What Is Reformer Pilates?

Reformer Pilates is a full-body, low-impact workout that can help you tone your muscles and build strength. It also improves core and posture and helps you relax. With the intensity and dynamics of reformer Pilates, you can get more out of the time you spend exercising.

Reformer Pilates is a type of Pilates that uses a narrow bed with a sliding carriage with straps and pulleys. Springs can be attached or removed from it to vary the resistance. Lesser-powered springs can stabilise the muscles whilst the ones with a lot of resistance help strengthen bigger muscle groups.

Traditional pilates exercises revolve around the Pilates mat work. It works on your stomach, legs, and lower and upper back muscles while you’re on a mat. In normal mat Pilates, your body weight provides resistance. There’s no need for equipment.

However, in Reformer Pilates, you use a reformer machine designed to create a new Pilates exercise. The reformer was originally designed in World War I to help rehabilitate immobilised soldiers.

Is Reformer Pilates Worth The Money?

Reformer pilates can be worth including as part of your overall fitness routine. The reformer machine helps you do more types of exercises and adds resistance to help you build strength, stamina and flexibility.

If you’re a beginner in the world of fitness, joining a normal Pilates program will probably be the right move for you – it’s more accessible and affordable than reformer pilates. From there, you can work your way up to Reformer Pilates if you enjoy the workout and find it beneficial.

But if you’re an advanced Pilates fan or if you feel you’re up to the challenge, trying Reformer Pilates can help add variety to your exercise routine. However, you’ll still want to include other forms of exercise – including cardio, HIIT or circuit training – to support your heart health and metabolism.

Those who want more of a physical challenge and love to break a sweat will find pilates less exciting than a more fun, high-energy group training class.

What Are the Benefits of Reformer Pilates?

Is reformer Pilates a good workout for you? Here are some benefits that you should consider.

  1. It’s a balanced, full-body workout. It strengthens the whole body, not just in one area. All of your muscles will benefit from it since the reformer can be adjusted.
  2. It provides low-impact but high-intensity workouts. The springs and ropes help reduce the load through your body by letting you work in a lying down position. This is good news if you have an injury, because the repetitive movements on a reformer tones and strengthens your injured muscles.

    Of course, it’s best to check with a doctor if a reformer is okay to use or if it could make your injury worse.
  3. It tones muscles and builds strength. Pushing and pulling against the equipment’s resistance together enhances strength and makes your muscles lean and toned.
  4. It enhances core and posture. Reformer Pilates strengthens your core and improves your coordination and balance. Your posture gets better too!
  5. It improves your flexibility. Stretching your muscles extends your muscle fibres, increasing your reach and flexibility without experiencing discomfort or pain.

Can You Lose Weight Doing Reformer Pilates?

Reformer Pilates can help strengthen and tone many aspects of your physique, but it’s not the ideal fitness program to lose weight.

Losing weight requires burning more calories than you’re consuming, meaning becoming physically active and doing cardio to burn off fat, as well as paying attention to your nutritional intake. A proper weight-loss program requires higher-intensity physical exercise that maximises calorie burn.

Reformer Pilates, on the other hand, is more about increasing your muscle tone, building your strength, developing your core, and increasing flexibility. So while reformer Pilates isn’t going to result in weight loss directly, it’s going to make you fitter and stronger and make it easier to lose weight in the future (or at the same time!).

Just like any physical exercise, reformer Pilates does involve calorie burning. The number of calories burned during a reformer Pilates session will depend on your present weight, the level of difficulty of the class, how many times you do it in a week, or how long you do the exercise. However, it won’t burn as many calories as you do with cardio exercises.

If you’re aiming for weight loss or fat loss, doing higher-intensity exercise like circuit training several times a week will offer you a higher calorie burn and quicker results. You can even incorporate both training styles into your overall fitness routine for maximum benefit.

Does Reformer Pilates Change Your Body Shape?

Reformer Pilates helps you define your muscles. As you use resistance to stretch and tone your muscles, especially around your core and the arms, your body shape improves. You get a tighter and leaner physique.

However, if you’re looking to achieve hypertrophy (muscle gain) you’ll probably want to incorporate traditional strength training into your fitness routine as well. A more cardio-intensive workout will also be required if you want to maximise calorie burn and fat loss through exercise.

Can I Build Muscle With My Pilates Reformer?

Reformer Pilates provides resistance, which is one way to help build muscles. However, unlike bodybuilding or weight training, the amount of resistance is not usually enough to build the massive muscles you see in weightlifters.

When you do reformer Pilates, your smaller core muscles are stimulated whilst the long muscles in your body are stretched out. It’s intended to tone your muscles and give you a full-body workout, rather than just increasing muscle mass.

Just remember that Reformer Pilates is a great cross-training exercise with weightlifting because it tones and strengthens the muscles.

How Long Does It Take To See Results From Reformer Pilates?

According to Joseph Pilates, “in 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference, and in 30 you’ll have a whole new body.” Like any other type of exercise, the more you do it, the sooner you’ll see results. As long as you are giving yourself enough time to rest and recover, you could see results in a few short months. 

However, if you have specific goals you’re wanting to achieve with pilates (or any other exercise style) it’s worth consulting a personal trainer. A PT can advise exactly which exercises will be most effective at achieving your individual goals.

Is Reformer Better Than Mat Pilates?

Reformer Pilates is better than mat Pilates if you are looking to see more definition and more results from your work. Standard Pilates use your own body weight and a mat as resistance generators. Reformer Pilates uses a piece of equipment that allows you to adjust resistance. As such, reformer Pilates is more intense and dynamic than standard Pilates.

How Many Times a Week Should I Do Reformer Pilates?

You should do reformer pilates 1-2 times a week to begin with. Reformer Pilates is much more intense than mat Pilates, so it’s important not to overdo it and injure yourself early on. 

Starting with a couple of sessions a week lets you get a feel for the type of exercise it is. Once you have done it a couple of times, you can build-up to the point where you’re feeling the burn.

Is It Worth It to Do Reformer Pilates Once a Week Only?

When doing reformer Pilates once a week, you’ll notice improved flexibility and core muscle strength. A recent study reveals that reformer Pilates performed once a week for 10 weeks resulted in decreased risk of fall and significant improvements in static and dynamic balance, functional mobility, lower extremity ankle dorsiflexion, active range of motion and balance self-efficacy in adults aged 65 and older.

If your goal is to improve your flexibility, strength, and range of motion, then you should consider doing reformer Pilates regularly. If you want to de-stress after a long day, one good session of reformer Pilates can help you relax.


This article is published for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and does not take into consideration your individual circumstances, medical conditions or abilities. Always consult a medical professional before beginning any program of exercise. A fitness industry professional can provide personalised advice to suit your needs. 

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