Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, High Ladder Barrel, Spine Corrector
Pilates exercises can be practiced on mat as well as on machines, and many of you wonder whether one is preferable to the other.
Pilates apparatus were originally designed to enable bed-ridden people to exercise. While imprisoned in a Lancaster internment camp during World War I, Joseph Pilates taught his principles to fellow detainees. He helped rehabilitate patients by rigging together machines from bedsprings, pulleys and straps, so they could exercise lying down. These machines later became the prototypes for the Pilates equipment.
For many, the Pilates apparatus, which are reminiscent of hospital beds, can be intimidating.
With machines, whether the Reformer, the Cadillac or the Wunda Chair, you benefit from a kind of assistance thanks to the resistance of the springs, the cylinders' rolling motion and the straps, while on the mat you are left to your own devices and it is up to your body to give all the efforts of traction.
In theory, machine practice allows beginners who are not toned enough to start practicing Pilates until they reach a sufficient level to practice on mat.
In fact there are no rules, and the choice of technique depends most of all on your ability and the goals you set for yourself.
If mat work is considered more difficult, machines offer, for example, a very effective way to focus on certain muscles, ease the task of muscle re-education following a wound, or enable the most advanced students to increase the difficulty of some exercises.
As a conclusion, one can say that both techniques have their strengths, and in an ideal world, one would follow one machine and two mat classes per week.
Most Pilates machines contain various adjustable parts and you really need a trained instructor to guide you through safe, proper usage and effective technique.
The Reformer is the most widely known piece of Pilates equipment and is a very versatile one.
More than 100 different exercises were created on the Reformer, and it meets wide range of needs, from rehabilitation needs to fitness goals.
It is known to "reform" bodies.
It makes for an effective, non-impact stretching and toning workout that is friendly to the joints.
The Reformer features a sliding carriage running along rails, springs attached with a variety of resistance, leg and arm pulleys, which are attached to the carriage, and a bar at one end for placing the feet or hands.
The user places his or her body in different positions using the foot bar and leg and arm pulleys to push and pull for muscle resistance and stretch using the arms, legs, wrists and ankles to slide back and forth along the rails in a controlled manner while the tension in the springs gently works the muscles.
While using the machine in a supine (lying on back), prone (lying on front), kneeling, standing or side lying, the user stabilizes the trunk, allowing the extremities to move freely from a stable torso.
Most of the exercises are performed lying down, emphasizing body symmetry and abdominal control and establish postural alignment with powerhouse stability, strength and control.
The adjustable springs allow for progressive resistance, which helps to lengthen and strengthen the muscles rather than building bulk.
Cadillac :: Trapeze Table
The Cadillac (often referred to as the "Trapeze Table") was originally devised by Joseph Pilates to rehabilitate bedridden patients back when he was working as a hospital orderly.
This apparatus has evolved a bit since the makeshift bed spring days but its inspiration is apparent and it continues to be a bridge between exercise and physical therapy.
The Cadillac has various bars, straps, springs and levers. Also included are a push-through bar (which can be sprung from above and below), a roll-down bar, 2 arm springs, and 2 leg springs.
Over 80 different exercises can be performed on this piece of Pilates equipment, ranging from gentle spring-assisted sit ups to advanced acrobatics - there's something for all ages and abilities.
Using springs and straps resistance; the Cadillac repertoire of exercises truly challenges the core abdominal muscles, develops spinal flexibility, works the shoulder girdle, strengthens the back and stretches the total body.
It is very efficient for back and joint problems.
The Cadillac "Trapeze" allows for the safe performance of spiraling and circular movements used to restore flexibility and strength in the back, as well as to lengthen the spine.
Wunda Chair :: Combo Chair :: High Chair
The Wunda chair (in German "Wonder") is the first home fitness equipment.
The Wunda Chair is a box with a padded seat, a foot pedal, and has 2 to 4 springs attached for a variety of resistance.
These different spring attachment positions make for a wide range of resistance.
It is deceptively resembling a little stool, but the springs system at the bottom of the chair allow more than 75 wide-ranged exercise to take place.
Don't let the word "chair" fool you - it's not necessarily a sit-down workout !
While many of these Pilates exercises are performed seated on top and pressing down on the step/pedal with your feet, others entail lying on the floor, standing straight up, lunging forward or doing push-up like moves with the arms.
Once again, adjustable spring resistance is the key to challenge with this specialized piece of fitness equipment.
While pressing down on the step with arms or legs, much of the stabilizing work is up to the torso - it's harder than it looks.
High Ladder Barrel
The High Ladder Barrel has the correct dimensions for stretching, strengthening and flexibility exercises for variety of body types, from beginners to super advanced.
The main exercises focus on abdominal and back (both stretches and strengtheners), spinal extensions leg stretches.
It helps isolate deep postural muscles and challenges the body on all planes of movement.
Spine Corrector :: Step Barrel :: Arc Barrel
This low barrel is known as the Spine Corrector because one of its main applications is to support and correct imbalances in the spine.
It's a portable, low-to-the-ground barrel with a wedge seat, which is easy to adapt for home use.
With this piece of equipment, you can open the chest and correct the curvature of the spine.
This apparatus activates the lower back, buttocks, shoulder, abdominals and pelvic region and heightens neuromuscular coordination.
It also is used to stretch the tight muscles in the chest, shoulders and hips.
The Spine Corrector helps balance muscles and develop a more nimble and flexible spine.