How reformer pilates can help you get long and lean – and move better every day.


If you're looking for a way to challenge your body, tone up and strengthen your core, pilates can be an excellent choice of workout. There are classes suitable for all levels from beginner to advanced, and as you build up your strength and technique, you should start to notice a real difference in how your body moves throughout your everyday life.

Once you understand the basic principles and techniques of pilates, you might choose to explore different moves and equipment to enhance your practise. One of the most popular ways to mix things up is to try reformer pilates.

Reformer pilates uses a bed-like frame, with a flat platform attached with springs. These springs provide different levels of resistance as you perform each move, pushing or pulling the platform with control. Exercises can be done lying down, sitting, standing, or in all kinds of positions, targeting different muscle groups.

To find out how reformer pilates could help her, Medibank member Jen headed to a class at Kaya Health Club, a Melbourne wellness club dedicated to the mind and body. Here's what she told us.

Reformer pilates – Jen's experience

As a pilates devotee for the best part of a decade, I don’t need any persuasion on its benefits. Having suffered chronic back pain and found relief through pilates, I can attest to the power of regular sessions to treat injury and significantly improve overall wellbeing. The fact that most pilates aficionados I’ve met are lean, long and carry themselves with ballerina-like poise certainly doesn’t hurt its case either.

Like most people I know who practise pilates or yoga, I am a member at a gym but practise pilates at a dedicated studio. I was intrigued to check out Kaya Health Club. Rather than being a gym with some pilates and yoga thrown in for good measure, the club specialises in pilates and yoga.

The first of its kind in Victoria, the popularity of Kaya Mind and Body Health Club is clear. Having only opened in November last year, the demand for group reformer classes has already led the owners to open a second studio to allow classes to run consecutively.

"The exercise really speaks to me – it's challenging, while also encouraging gracefulness and has helped me be more aware of my body throughout the day spent at the office."

It seems that the South Yarra and Prahran crowd are keen to put Joseph Pilates’ claim that "you will feel better after 10 sessions, look better after 20 and have a completely new body after 30 sessions," to the test, and do so in the stylish ambience of Kaya’s underground haven.

Pilates, developed in Germany in the early part of the 20th century and used to rehabilitate soldiers after the war, focuses on controlling the core postural muscles. A balanced blend of strength and flexibility training, it improves posture and creates long, lean muscles without bulking up.

The exercise really speaks to me – it's challenging, while also encouraging gracefulness and has helped me be more aware of my body throughout the day spent at the office.

The Kaya group reformer class was unlike any pilates experience I have had before. A room full of 26 reformers – bed-like frames with moveable carriages that look suspiciously like torture instruments – is a bit of a spectacle.

"A few private sessions can help build the muscle memory you need to really be more aware of what your body is doing."

I was delighted to see that my fellow classmates were a varied bunch. Given the benefits not only for assisting injury recovery but for preventing it, it is unsurprising that pilates is no longer considered the sole realm of soccer mums, gymnasts and dancers. In fact, more and more professional athletes and sports clubs are making it integral to their training regimes – including Melbourne Storm, who have made Kaya their official club.

The number of ladies still far outweighed the men though, so perhaps it’s worth pointing out that not only was pilates developed by a man, for men originally, but men also tend to be less flexible than women, so perhaps need to do pilates even more.

I left the class feeling satisfied by the workout and inspired by Kaya’s mission to make pilates accessible and appealing to a broader audience. Before diving into a group reformer class however, I think it is best to have at least three to five private lessons from a pilates professional, or attend a specially designed reformer introduction class.

A few private sessions can help build the muscle memory you need to really be more aware of what your body is doing in these larger (and much more affordable) reformer classes and ensure you get the most out of them and not injure yourself in the process.

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