Being a new mum who wants to get back into fitness after pregnancy can be daunting. There are so many classes, so many workout systems, so many sports and so many gyms to choose from. So what’s best?
You may have heard that Pilates is a great workout for anyone wanting to strengthen their core and improve their pelvic floor after having a baby, but did you know that there is more than one variety of Pilates to try? Reformer Pilates, which was created by the founder of Pilates himself over 100 years ago, uses apparatus to teach participants the correct techniques for each exercise, as opposed to the more commonly known mat-based system.
Buump Active spoke to Catherine Hebb, who runs Runway Pilates in Greater Manchester and Cheshire, to get the lowdown on Reformer Pilates…
Hi Catherine! Firstly, what is Reformer Pilates?
“Joseph Pilates – the founder of Pilates – believed physical activity was the key to developing and maintaining health. Throughout WW1, Pilates was interned by the British Army and taught other soldiers the exercise system which he himself had created.
“Originally, he attached bed springs and ropes to the beds of bedridden war veterans – allowing them to undergo rehabilitation whilst still in hospital. This is where the inspiration for the ‘Reformer’ that we know today originated from. Pilates is an exercise system that has now been utilised for over 100 years.
“Pilates used this ‘Reformer’ to teach his students the correct technique for each exercise. It is a well-known fact that performing an exercise correctly is more valuable than performing an exercise with poor form and technique multiple times. Ensuring that the correct technique and optimal posture is used, individuals will reduce the likelihood of injury and promote greater physical wellbeing.
“Reformer Pilates offers many more benefits than mat or classic fitness workouts due to the resistance of the pulley and spring system of the Reformer machine. It is more dynamic and intense than its mat work counterpart because most of the exercises are performed through greater ranges of motion and involve resistance that is applied from springs and pulleys. The Reformer has over 500 different exercises to choose from all promoting length, strength, flexibility and balance.
“This is why I use Reformer Pilates machines in my studios. We teach clients how to work their small and big muscles in their body, balancing out their muscles and joints so they have a body that works for them reducing pain, increasing muscle tone and improving their posture.”
How can Reformer Pilates benefit your fitness levels / core / pelvic floor?
“In Pilates we focus on creating and maintaining a healthy spine. What does this mean? Scientific research has shown that we all need a slight S shape in our spine for maximum shock absorption against gravity. Our pelvis, rib cage and shoulder joints directly affect our spines position. We use basic principles which correlate to pelvic positioning, rib cage placement, shoulder placement and neck/head placement to ensure your body is in the correct position whilst performing exercises so you work effectively and reduce the risk of injury.
“Our cores / stomachs are key muscles that help in maintaining pelvic and rib cage placement and indirectly affect shoulder and neck placement.
“Think of your body as a stocking – everything is interrelated and connected. If one area of your body isn’t working, then it will impact on another area.
So why is Pilates so great for mums / new mums?
“When we have babies, this directly affects the position of the spine, pelvis, rib cage and shoulder placement and as an affect stretches the core muscles. Pilates is fantastic at reconnecting those core muscles especially if you are suffering with diastasis recti for example.
“The sliding carriage and spring resistance offers a multitude of layers to certain exercises. Reformer Pilates strengthens your core muscles much more effectively than regular sit ups. As it targets deep abdominal muscles like the transverse abdominis as well as superficial ones like the rectus abdominis muscles that form a much desired “six-pack”. Reformer Pilates emphasises precise alignment and correct form, which requires core muscles to fire effectively.
“So for example, if you have diastasis recti, lifting your head and shoulders will create more pressure through the stomach. Using Reformer Pilates, you can keep your head and shoulders down whilst still working the core muscles as the sliding carriage and springs offers the instability for the core to work against.
“When engaging the pelvic floor, remember to lift the front and the back of your pelvic floor. The easiest way to describe this is to imagine you desperately need to go to the toilet at both ends… Majority of us forget the back part of our pelvic floor – which is just as important as the front.
“Reformer Pilates is for everybody – the machines enable you to work at your own pace and level whilst being in a class with other abilities.”
Catherine set up Runway Pilates with a passion to empower clients to enjoy their lives free from injury and in a body that feels and moves for them. Her ultimate goal is to help her clients stand taller, feel stronger and move with confidence. Runway Pilates has studios in Altrincham, Greater Manchester, and Alderley Edge in Cheshire. www.runwaypilates.com.