In a bid for stronger core muscles and improved posture, our editor tries a beginner reformer pilates class. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS.
Chances are, you’ve heard of Pilates if you work out regularly. Not to be confused with yoga or generic stretch classes, this low-impact exercise developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, is centred around controlled and precise movements to help develop strong core muscles, better posture, and increased functional mobility.
As a certified yoga teacher who’s gone for Pilates mat classes, I was keen to try the reformer—an apparatus used to emphasise postural control through coordinated movements. My experience started at Virgin Active’s Raffles Place outlet, which was conveniently located in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District. I had my initial doubts about taking Pilates classes at a gym, which seemed like it wouldn’t offer as much individualised attention as specialised studios.
On the upside, the international fitness chain offers 150 reformer Pilates classes a week, across all six locations in the Lion City. Members (memberships are priced from S$204 per month) can attend all these classes to their hearts’ content, compared to an average of S$500 for 10 group classes at specialised studios.
With little expectations in tow, I headed to the reformer beginner class in comfy activewear (read: sports bra and leggings), along with a pair of grip socks. Featuring non-slip silicone grips, these socks are recommended to help one stay in a static position on the reformer’s bedlike frame, without slipping or falling. After a quick roll call, in which she speedily memorised the names of new attendees like me, the instructor had us set up the reformer for class. Knowing I was a newbie, she patiently guided me through the adjustment of the foot bar and handles, ensuring they fit my height. Before the start of each new exercise, she told us which springs to add for optimal resistance.
We started with footwork, which encourages proper alignment of the hips, pelvis, knees, and ankles. I could feel my core engaging to stabilise my trunk as my legs pressed against the foot bar. Afterward, we did hundreds, a classic Pilates exercise where we held the handles, drew our bellies in, and pulsed forward. My abdominal muscles were burning by then. Throughout the class, I was pleasantly surprised that we got plenty of personalised attention as the instructor walked around to call out our names to correct our movements. Though it was my first reformer Pilates class, I left with ample basic knowledge of setting up the apparatus and the right muscles to engage in basic moves.
While reformer Pilates seemingly appeals to an older crowd or those rehabilitating from injuries, it can easily benefit most people. After all, the workout builds a strong core and posture, which results in a better form whether you’re a runner or bodybuilder. Those who enjoy spinning will find that Pilates helps in lengthening muscles, which may be tight from repetitive movements. Boxers may also find that Pilates aid with imbalances, such as a dominant side.
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