No Weights Needed: Try a Pilates Reformer or TRX Class!
By: Elise Chretien
Aside from the spectacular selection of VIDA classes available to our members on a daily basis, VIDA also provides specialized small group programs for those committed to making big changes to their overall fitness level. These programs include Pilates Reformer training and TRX Suspension training! Both Pilates Reformer and TRX have been proven to increase muscular endurance, increase core strength and benefit people of all fitness levels.
Let’s start with Pilates Reformer. If you haven’t been on a reformer before, never fear; the machine is not as scary as it looks – I promise. If you’ve done Pilates on a mat, you can expect similar positions and exercises but with added resistance and a fuller range of motion on the reformer.
The reformer uses springs, leverage and body weight to provide resistance while performing movements targeting specific muscle groups. The workouts consist of controlled, flowing movements working your muscles through a fuller range of motion that you wouldn’t be able to reach on a mat alone. The increased resistance provided by the reformer makes your muscles exert more force to overcome it, therefore making them stronger.
Your instructor will guide you through the proper core, abdomen and lower back positioning required to use the reformer correctly. Proper spine alignment is critical to using the reformer and your instructor will make sure your body is positioned as it should be. Benefits of using the reformer include increased muscle fiber endurance, connective tissue strength, improved posture and stronger core muscles. A stronger core means more power generated to the rest of your muscles and a decreased risk of injury!
In the words of Pilates instructor and Group Fitness Manager Tami DeVitis, reformer classes start working their magic almost immediately.
“Mere words cannot describe the full benefits of taking Pilates Reformer classes. I must say that I started feeling the benefits and positive changes in my body after my second class, possibly even after my first! No other form of exercise has provided me with such a marked improvement in muscle strength and flexibility in such a short period of time,” says Tami.
Tami taught my first reformer class, and was extremely helpful with demonstrating exercises and explaining how the machine was working as we did them. Her coaching really helped me feel aware of my muscles contracting and working to overcome the resistance.
Since starting her Pilates Reformer workouts, Tami says she feels much more aware of what her body is doing than ever before.
“This increase in awareness remains at all times and prevents injury. In addition, my posture has greatly improved – I know I run faster than before and it has even improved my yoga practice! I love training clients on the reformer as I see the change in their bodies and overall body strength so quickly,” she says.
Next up is TRX – the class where you get to defy gravity! In TRX you’re using body weight, gravity and two suspension straps to perform literally hundreds of different exercises. The workouts are fast, effective, and can target every muscle in your body with just one piece of equipment!
By placing your hands or feet in the straps hanging from the ceiling, the number of different exercises you can perform using your own body weight as resistance is limitless. In addition to whatever muscle group you’re focusing on, your core will be fully engaged during every exercise – two birds with one stone!
The versatility of TRX is what makes it so effective for people of all fitness levels. The difficulty of any TRX exercise is solely based on your body position and angle of leverage, which puts you in complete control of how challenging your workout is. If something feels too hard or too easy you can adjust your feet just a few inches in either direction to find the right level of resistance for you.
Personal Trainer and TRX instructor Jeffery Cain uses TRX in addition to his weight training to focus on muscle toning. He explains TRX as a challenging, high intensity, dynamic cardiovascular workout that also teaches proper form for beginners.
Both Reformer and TRX classes meet in small groups (Reformer no more than 4 per class, TRX usually maxes out around 6) which ensures you receive individual attention from the instructor. Each exercise is demonstrated beforehand and the instructor is always close by if something feels off or if you need help getting your positioning right.
If you’ve been peeking into the TRX or reformer studios, now is your chance to see what all the hype is about! Check with a trainer or instructor at your VIDA location to see if you can sit in on a class to get a feel for it. Once you’re sold (and sore), you can purchase a 50 pack of TRX or Reformer training sessions during the month of February and receive one month of free VIDA membership!
As someone who just tried both of these classes for the first time this week, I can say with confidence that your body will thank you for adding them to your routine. Just be ready to feel sore in places you may not have felt before!