Reformer Pilates expert answers your key questions on the strength and stretch-based workout

reformer pilates
If you're intimidated to try the trendy workout style, we have some advice from an expert. Photo credit: Getty.

Throughout lockdown many Kiwis developed or reignited a love of slower, more mindful movement like Pilates and yoga, using YouTube and online classes to guide home workouts from their living rooms.

But now the fear of working out around others has somewhat abated, many are taking their newfound love to the next level at recently reopened studios around the city. 

I first tried reformer Pilates back in 2018 with trainer David Enticott at Auckland studio Reform, in what I now see was a clear example of 'jumping in at the deep end'. 

Since then I've become increasingly hooked on the workout that is equal parts strength and stretch, as has much of Auckland. 

There are now numerous studios around the city for newbies to try: Unity Studios in Mt Eden, Wild Pilates in Newmarket and Kia Kaha in Takapuna just to name a few. 

My studio of choice is Core Collective, a reformer Pilates studio based in City Works Depot run by Kate Hanline and her incredible trainers Sophia Zeniou and Kelsey Baker. I would recommend, but I selfishly choose not to because I live in fear of missing out on spots in their already packed out classes. 

The latest studio to open is Reform's third Auckland offering in Takapuna, a convenient location for people who live or work across the bridge. 

Coinciding with the latest opening, Reform owner Jane Gibson answered some of Newshub's main questions about Pilates for those keen to try but intimidated by the prospect of mounting one of the metal machines - which look slightly terrifying but in fact, challenge and support you in all the right places. 

Can you try reformer pilates if you've never done mat pilates before?

Yes, of course. A lot of our clients have never done mat pilates before. I have only ever done two mat pilates classes in my life and I score myself a 3/10 at it.

Who can benefit from reformer pilates?

It sounds clichéd, but everyone can benefit from reformer pilates. Our clients range from teenagers to those casually cutting shapes on the reformer in their (late) 70s. We have elite athletes who attend, both individually and as a team as part of their pre-season campaigns, like the NZ Rugby 7s. We then have the bulk of our clients who attend for personal reasons - to gain strength, recover from injury, tone, increase flexibility, lose weight, have time out, or for mental health reasons, to mention a few.

Is there anyone who shouldn't try it?

Like any fitness modality, it's not for everyone, and we'd be naive to think everyone will love it. It does require a bit of coordination and base strength to attend a class setting. But we can modify everything and slow things right down in 1:1 sessions to suit all abilities if someone requires a few of these to build strength, get familiar with the reformer before entering the class environment.

How often should a beginner go in order to quickly see results?

To see optimum results, three times per week is recommended.

What is your all-time favourite move?

This sounds extremely beige, but I do love a lunge. I know, it would be much sassier to say 'the-reverse-unicorn-flying-umbrella' or something! There are so many different forms of a lunge that can be performed on a reformer and I vibe them all. I love the full-body component - especially if adding dumbbells - and the control and fatigue level reached during a lunge.