What would you do if we told you that more time in bed could reduce your risk of injury, improve your running performance and even help you bag strength PBs for fun? You’d jump right in, wouldn’t you. Well that’s exactly what Virgin Active
hope you’ll do at this year’s Balance Festival.
Of course, when we say bed, we mean the reformer – a bed-like contraption invented by Joseph Pilates, the eponymous godfather of Pilates – that is the focus of Virgin Active’s Reformer Pilates classes, which will be running Friday to Sunday.
The reformer consists of a platform that slides back and forth on wheels, connected to a series of colour-coded metal springs that provide resistance. “Reformers take Pilates beyond the mat,” explains Virgin Active’s Head of Pilates, UK, Emma Marie.
“In our classes we use them to move the body in a dynamic way, challenging you to use control and precision as you seamlessly slide and glide through a full body workout.”
You shouldn’t, however, take these classes lying down – so to speak. “Don’t be fooled,'' continues Marie. “Reformer Pilates strengthens areas of the body that are typically weak and lengthens areas that are often tight, leaving you feeling taller, more connected to your body and more stable on your own two feet.”
Virgin Active will be running 45-minute classes
designed for runners, weight lifting, core, full body and recovery. Here Marie breaks down how Reformer Pilates works – and how regular classes can help you avoid picking up niggling injuries from days, weeks and months spent working from home.
How Reformer Pilates benefits weight lifting
Reformer Pilates focuses on strengthening the “local muscles” – or smaller muscles – that provide vital stability and stamina during exercise. “Without these muscles, the larger ‘global muscles’ that produce power aren’t able to perform at their full potential,” says Marie.
“Typically, local muscles and several of the deep core muscles are neglected in traditional weight training, which creates an imbalance in the body and increases the risk of injury.” But by learning to target and isolate these muscles on the reformer you’ll see your performance in strength classes skyrocket.
How Reformer Pilates improves running performance
Reformer Pilates is low impact, making it the perfect discipline to dovetail with running for those who love pounding the pavement. “It will help alleviate stress on the body, while still challenging your muscles and benefiting your running performance,” says Marie.
“Pilates strengthens muscles that are particularly weak and stretches muscles that are often tight, creating alignment and balance in the body’s posture and function,” she adds. This in turn will improve your running gait, making you more efficient with every stride.
How Reformer Pilates reduces risk of injury
More time on the reformer bed can do wonders when you’re stuck at your desk, too. “Working from home has caused back pain to become increasingly common over the past 18 months,” says Marie, blaming a lack of regular mobilisation and eight-hour days spent on the sofa.
“Sitting for long periods on soft furnishings that lack proper lumbar support can cause the spine to collapse, the abdominals to become disengaged and the supporting muscles of the spine to tighten,” she says.
Neck pain is another common side effect of home working. “If your computer screen is too high it can cause your chin to protrude forward, making the trapezius muscles in your upper back weaken, further compromising your posture.”
But all of these ailments can be undone on the reformer. “Reformer Pilates coaches you to connect breath and core together to support movements – whether in the gym or at your desk,” adds Marie. “Combined with dynamic stretching, more time on the bed will encourage your body to work to its fullest potential.”
Virgin Active will be running 45-minute Reformer Pilates classes for runners, weight lifting, recovery and more at Balance Festival 2021. Book your spot here or visit Virgin Active to try a class for yourself.