As if its ability to strengthen the core and increase mindfulness weren’t enough to keep us singing its praises, another sprinkle to add to the topping of Pilates deliciousness is the fact that there’s more than one type to choose from.
You’ve probably heard of mat Pilates, and you’ve likely heard of the reformer, but how do you know which method is best for you? Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between the two to help determine which option is more suitable to your goals and lifestyle.
How are they the same?
In the 1920s, Joseph Pilates created a new exercise program to provide functional rehabilitation for war veterans. People found Pilates to be low-impact and highly effective, which is why it’s still widely practiced today. The program is built around strengthening and initiating movements from the core, or the “powerhouse,” as Mr. Pilates called it, and the rest of the body will follow suit. Because of the foundation of the program, you can expect to gain strength, a strong core, flexibility, body awareness, and mindfulness from Pilates, no matter which option you choose to jump into.
If both options will benefit me in this way, why make a choice?
Mat Pilates is the foundation of the program’s concepts. Designed to improve strength, flexibility, and posture, a highlight of this low-impact method is that it requires your full attention for accurate body control. In mat Pilates, you use your own weight for resistance, so there’s nothing else to support you, which is important in the development of core strength and body awareness. Mat work can do wonders for your core and posture, as long as you are sure to execute the movements with correct form.
The Reformer is a specialized apparatus designed to take you through a variety of movements with additional resistance. This machine supports the body, helping to perfect your form during the exercises. The springs in the apparatus make it possible to significantly increase resistance, more intensely taxing the muscles and more rapidly building strength and coordination. The cables on the reformer force your body to get full range of motion during workouts, increasing your flexibility and joint health. Plus, the machine just looks super cool, so there’s that.
So how do I choose?
Well, which one is calling your name? If you’re stuck in the middle, one aspect to consider is that you can do mat Pilates just about anywhere, but to do work on the reformer, you need to be around the machine. That may not always be possible, so having mat knowledge is beneficial. Also, you’d need a trainer to teach you how to use the reformer, so consider if you have the resources to hire someone to show you the ins and outs. On the other hand, if you’d like more resistance and variety, the reformer is the way to go. There really is no wrong or right, so think about which option tickles your fancy. But don’t think too long—the benefits are waiting for you!