PILATES PARTICIPATION HAS GROWN INCREDIBLY IN THE CURRENT DECADE WITH THE FOCUS ON MATWORK CLASSES IN HEALTH CLUBS. BOUTIQUE-STYLE PILATES EQUIPMENT STUDIOS ARE ALSO MEETING THE NEEDS OF REGULAR EXERCISERS, ATHLETES, REHAB CLIENTS AND EVEN CHILDREN, WITH THE REFORMER AS THE KEY PIECE OF EQUIPMENT.
Unlike many exercise methods, Pilates benefits anyone with a desire for a balanced, lean, strong body. There is added value also for those with injuries such as chronic back issues or with special exercise needs such as pre- and postnatal clients. With quality instructors, these special populations will see true benefits leading to a lifestyle choice for participation in Pilates long after the problems are solved. Fitness facility owners everywhere are recognising that attrition rates in Pilates studios are very low.
Although the majority of exercisers will have heard of Pilates, sadly their awareness of the scope of the discipline will most likely be limited. To the question: “What is Pilates”, a typical answer will be: “Stretching exercises you do on a long soft mat.”
Few will have any awareness that mat-based Pilates was conceived as an advanced stage in Pilates programming and that novices and remedial clients would initially develop their technique and musculature on a range of bizarrely-named, somewhat strange-looking pieces of equipment.
The core piece of Pilates equipment is the reformer. It offers total versatility to exercisers of all ages and fitness levels, seamlessly connecting mind and body as users isolate their peripheral limbs in functional exercise patterns while stabilising the core. The reformer is unlike any other piece of equipment on the gym floor - using a series of springs to connect the frame of the machine to a moving carriage supports the body in lying, sitting, kneeling or standing positions. The carriage slides quietly on bearings in linear channels as cables or foot-bars are pulled or pushed with arms or legs.
Recent articles in the UK professional fitness press (Health Club Management, March 2009) have suggested that nontraditional Pilates machines - such as vibration platforms, gravity machines and cable technology such as Technogym's Kinesis equipment line - can act as substitutes for Pilates reformers. The reality is that just as the Pilates method has been refined over many decades, method-specific equipment such as Pilates reformers have proven themselves to deliver the results that maintain loyal participants.