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One of the most common comments we get from new clients is about how strange the Pilates equipment looks at first glance. There are several rather unusual looking machines used in our practice, and while they may seem kind of intimidating at first, once you train on them for a few sessions, you will understand that they are really easy to use and can easily be adjusted to all fitness levels. Below is a brief description of the equipment we use at our studio so you can understand how each piece can be an integral part of a full Pilates experience.
The “reformer” is probably the most common machine seen in Pilates studios, and you may have seen them in other Indianapolis Pilates studios, or even at some public gyms. The reformer was the first piece of Pilates equipment that I purchased when I became a certified Pilates trainer. The reformer looks a little like a bed with a little headrest. There is a flat slightly padded mat, or carriage, that you can lie, kneel, stand, or sit on, and which is movable. The resistance required to slide it back and forth on its frame comes from several varying levels of springs that are attached combined with movement from your body. Different exercises and different strength levels will require different tension weight on the springs. You can move the carriage with your feet against a foot bar, and/or you can use straps on your hands or feet as well. As your trainer, I can adjust the tension according to your strength and needs. Interestingly, there are some exercises that you will find are actually more difficult with less resistance.
All the machines and equipment are great at working all aspects of the body, but you can really get a killer “core,” (or ab), leg and arm workout on the reformer. It is really the workhorse of Pilates training and after a few sessions with it, you will see your strength and balance improve and you will appreciate the variety of exercises that can be achieved on this particular apparatus. I train both privately on the reformer, as well as offer several classes utlizing the reformer extensively.
Along with the V2 Max Reformer we feature a special extended version reformer for people taller than 6’4 and larger than 250 lbs. This is especially beneficial for large athletes. For privates and duets we also feature the unique Stott Pilates V2 Max Plus Reformer. It’s a beautiful reformer that we call the “Bentley” because it’s so nice. It’s very smooth but most importantly it allows for a huge variety of pulling movements because the pulleys adjust. This is an amazing machine to use for golfers, tennis players and really anybody that wants to improve their torso strength and rotation capabilities.
The “Cadillac” is probably the weirdest looking piece of Pilates equipment with its springs, bars and fuzzy hand straps. Many clients have commented on the fact that it looks like something you might see in a torture chamber. It actually looks a little like a hospital bed, and in fact, Joseph Pilates first developed the Cadillac as a way to rehabilitate bed-ridden clients. The Cadillac can be used in numerous ways at various skill levels. It can be used for gentle stretching exercises, tough leg and arm workouts (utilizing the leg and arm springs) and even pull ups done while hanging from the top bars! Some exercises are performed while laying on the bed, some while standing, and others while kneeling or sitting. The Cadillac is an extremely versatile piece of equipment. Using it will challenge your body to do exercises with just the right form and posture, thereby benefitting your form and posture!
Indianapolis Pilates by 15 to Fit has one full Cadillac as well as several reformers that are convertible to become partial Cadillacs. This is something that makes our studio unique, because we can use the Cadillacs both in our private sessions as well as in group classes, which most studios do not offer.
One of my favorite pieces of Pilates equipment is the “chair”—I always tell my clients this piece of equipment can really help your butt! Again, the resistance is built around spring tightness, and can be adjusted for different strength levels. It was originally called the “Wunda Chair” and was actually a piece of furniture (a chair) when flipped onto one side and then when moved upside down, became a piece of exercise equipment. Originally the chairs were made of wood and padded seats and foot pedals (and some brands still are), but many exercise equipment companies (such as Peak Pilates, which is the brand we utilize most at Indianapolis Pilates by 15 to Fit) have developed more streamlined looking models that look less like furniture and more like classic exercise equipment.
The chair may look less complicated than the other machines, but is really great at working your core and glutes as well as your arms and legs. Exercises can be done sitting forward and backward on the chair, standing upright on your feet on the foot bars, lying across the seat or even sitting on the floor with hands and/or feet on the chair. For as simple as it looks, this chair is amazingly diverse in its uses. I still think it is the best piece of machinery for tightening up your glutes to get a great tight rear end!
In both private sessions and group classes at Indianapolis Pilates by 15 to Fit, we almost always utilize the chairs as part of the workout. One of the things I like about the chair with people who have never done Pilates is how quickly you can begin to see improvement here. Exercises that seem very difficult at first quickly become more fluid and graceful. These exercises work wonders at strengthening which ultimately not only tightens muscles, but helps to maintain great balance and flexibility. And once you begin to see the results you can start achieving from the chair, it will quickly become one of your favorite pieces of equipment as well!
The Ladder Barrel
The Ladder Barrel is a wonderful device for deep stretches as well as targeted strengthening and flexibility exercises. There are rungs in the ladder portion of the equipment that are at different heights that make it easy to accommodate various body heights. It is great for spinal articulation and stretching hips—you can use the barrel to stretch on your stomach, on your side, or laying across on your back. It is great to promote not only good flexibility as I said, but also help your posture. The design of this piece of equipment is great for helping isolate deep core muscles—our favorite muscles to target! As we age, this kind of spinal articulation is so great for helping to strengthen the bones and muscles that will keep us all upright. I use the barrel as a compliment to the other pieces of equipment and there is nothing better than great deep stretches on the barrel at the end of a hard workout.