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What's the Difference Between Clinical Pilates and Reformer Pilates?

Have you ever tried Reformer Pilates? You might have seen the distinctive reformer in our photos on our website or social media, or heard that it’s a great way to improve balance, strength and flexibility. The reformer machine might look complicated, but it’s a really effective and accessible form of exercise, and with an experienced Clinical Pilates instructor, you’ll get a lot of out a Reformer Pilates session.



If you’ve always wanted to try Reformer Pilates, or you’re wondering what the difference is between Pilates, Clinical Pilates and Reformer Pilates, read on!


What is Pilates?

Developed in the 1920s by a dancer named Joseph Pilates, Pilates is a method of physical exercise that focuses on improving mobility, strength and flexibility, by emphasising control rather than just strength. Pilates is generally practiced lying down on a mat, and the exercises are based on six main principles: concentration, control, centre, precision, fluidity and breath.


How is Reformer Pilates different to Pilates?

Instead of being practiced on a mat, reformer Pilates uses a Reformer Machine. It's a similar shape to a bed and includes a foot bar, moving carriage, ropes and pulleys. The use of a Reformer supercharges your Pilates routine by introducing a wider variety of exercises with increased range of motion, and greater resistance. Sounds scary? Not to worry - movements are still low-impact, and the weight of springs can be adjusted so you’re working with the right level of resistance. It's actually a really accessible form of exercise, and can be adapted to your needs and requirements by a good instructor.


What is Clinical Pilates?

Clinical Pilates is a Pilates session led by a qualified instructor, usually a Physiotherapist. Clinical Pilates sessions can involve the Reformer or the mat. If you're interested in trying Reformer Pilates, but worried it will aggravate a previous injury or condition, this is where Clinical Pilates comes in. Clinical Pilates follows the same principles as Pilates, but is taught by a certified instructor (usually a Physiotherapist) with a background in anatomy and physiology. This allows them to tailor exercises to your body, whether you’re recovering from an injury, regaining strength after childbirth, or improving posture for back pain.


A Clinical Pilates session can involve mat work, or sessions on the Reformer: here at Guy Gold's, we offer one-one-one Clinical Pilates sessions with our wonderful instructor Rebecca Faith Wield.


A Clinical Pilates instructor will start with an initial assessment. Based on this, they’ll design a program that includes and avoids specific exercises to offer your body the best support. If you'd like to try Reformer Pilates, a qualified Clinical Pilates instructor can help you get started in a safe, effective way with tailored exercises that are just right for you.


Is Reformer Pilates Right for Me?

There are lots of great Pilates group classes out there, and they're a good way to get moving. On the other hand, a Clinical Pilates session (on the Reformer or on the mat) is a great option if you've got specific goals in mind, if you'd like to get more out of your workouts, or if you've got any injuries or limitations you're working with.


Because you're being supervised by a qualified Physiotherapist, you can be sure that any of the movements you do will be safe for you, and benefit your body in the long run. You'll benefit from the focus and attention of your clinician at all times, and they can help you find the exercises and movements that help you achieve your goals, whatever they are.


Clinical Pilates is the safest option if you have any specific requirements. What might these look like? You could be recovering from an injury, trying to prevent re-injury, experiencing pain or discomfort in a specific area of your body, or addressing a particular health issue. In these cases, their background in Physiotherapy puts a Clinical Pilates instructor in a better position to meet your body where it’s at and guide you through exercises that will be the most beneficial for you, not just for anyone.


We always recommend a gentle approach to new exercise routines, so if you're starting out, why not check in with one of our licensed Physiotherapists? They’ll be happy to give you a better understanding of how Clinical Pilates can help you achieve your wellbeing goals. You can book an appointment for Clinical or Reformer Pilates here.

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