Pilates: Mat vs. Reformer

Mat and Reformer Pilates are beneficial for building strength in your core and small muscle groups. Both modalities train you to initiate from your core — otherwise known as your center or ‘powerhouse.’ You can do the same series of exercises for Mat and reformer Pilates, to help work different muscularity. Mat uses your own body weight for exercises, while the reformer adds resistance using spring tension.

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates is the basis for all Pilates exercises. Your body weight provides resistance, making the workouts more challenging. Mat is very important for both the beginner and advanced practitioner as it emphasizes the control of your muscles. Advanced classes are the most challenging because you are using your own body to work your legs, stomach, lower back and upper back muscles.

The Pilates Reformer

The Pilates Reformer utilizes spring tension and straps to add resistance. For most first timers, the Reformer tends to seem a little more intimidating. However, after a couple workouts you will discover that the Reformer is very versatile and effective. The Reformer supports your body by keeping it in proper alignment. Springs can be added for more resistance, but you’ll find after building initial strength, less resistance will make the exercises more challenging. This capability allows people of all fitness levels to safely complete exercises.

The Reformer can be used for both beginning to advanced exercises. It can also provide a more challenging strength and endurance workout than Mat. It is a very helpful tool for people rehabbing as well.

Pilates is great for strength, posture, flexibility, balance, and endurance. You can work your whole body at once or target specific muscle groups. Plus, you’ll effectively use your functional and core muscles, which will benefit day-to-day life and any athletic lifestyle.

The biggest misconception about both is that the Reformer is harder than Mat work, which in fact is the opposite. Reformer Pilates can more easily target certain muscle groups, while Mat Pilates focuses more on stabilizing muscles. It is important to maintain a consistent practice of centering, concentration, control, breath, precision, and flow.

At the Village Health Clubs and Spas, we offer both types of Pilates classes. Mat Pilates classes are complimentary as part of your membership. These classes are led by a skilled teacher and provide the camaraderie and motivation of a group class. The Village also offers Pilates Reformer classes in a group environment or one-on-one with an instructor for an additional cost. In this format, whether group or one on one, you will receive more individual attention and coaching. When in doubt, try both!

About the Author:

Jodi trained in the classical East Coast Pi-lates method and has been teaching for 20 years. She opened a successful studio in upstate New York, which she sold to move out west. While in New York she was the fitness spokesperson for the CBS, and ABC morning news shows. And has been the fitness expert for Gannett news services, as well as various newspapers and magazines. Jodi is also barre certified, as well as in Yamuna body rolling, gyro movement, activecore, and Spinning®.

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