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Pilates Mat vs. Pilates Reformer- Where to Start?

By Kim Myers, Pilates Coordinator


Pilates Mat vs. Pilates Reformer – Where to Start?

For anyone new to the Pilates practice, Mat Pilates seems to be a little less intimidating than the scary looking equipment we have in our private and group class studios (Star and Swan).

What’s the basic difference?

Mat Pilates requires your own body weight as resistance. Mat exercises are performed low to the ground and require you to be in control of your body rather than relying on the feedback or assistance from the springs that you would find on the reformer. Muscle control is key to get the best benefit of a Pilates Mat class. Reformer Pilates will accommodate a full range of motion, which helps to build strength and increase flexibility. The reformer acts as a support for the body, by assisting with correct alignment and form.

While the Pilates method was designed to include both Mat and Reformer practice, I am a strong believer that your practice should begin on the reformer, with a certified instructor.

Why? Beginners to Pilates can typically:

  1. Hold their breath
  2. Move too quickly
  3. Make movements too big, limiting range of motion targets those small, deep muscles that may be ‘’sleeping’’.

Advanced movements in a Mat class can put beginners at an increased risk for injury. Whether you have an injury, limited range of motion or a weak core, starting your Pilates journey on a reformer with a trained professional will set you up for success in our very popular Pilates Mat classes.

Kristin McKissick has been a valued member and Pilates program supporter since joining the club in 2008. Her Pilates journey started years before, on the mat, and she almost never came back to it. Kristin describes her first mat class experience: “You know when you see a baby on the floor, flailing about, trying to figure out where they are in space? My joints would take the brunt of the work. I didn’t have the core strength and all the strength in those little muscles that hold you up in space.’”

When Kristen was pregnant with her first child, she found Reformer Pilates and has never looked back. “I know where my ‘corset’ is and how to employ those muscles. Reformer Pilates has improved my body awareness and posture. It has helped to prevent and recover from injuries”

If you are new to Pilates at Club Greenwood, email Kim to get you set up with a complimentary private reformer Pilates lesson.


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