Pilates Reformer is one of those fun fitness programs that you can easily fall in love with. Not only do these body-shaping exercises tone your physique, they’re also energizing and enjoyable. Based on the foundation of Pilates moves (created by Joseph Pilates), instead of using a mat, these exercises are done on a Reformer machine. In addition to shaping your body, Pilates Reformer exercises are also great for improving your balance and posture, while strengthening and elongating your muscles. 

In collaboration with fitness instructor Maddy Crouch (the owner of Physique Exercise Salon in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California), Inspirations & Celebrations is excited to present a new 4-part fitness tutorial series called the “The Fit Physique Guide to Pilates Reformer”. Over the next few weeks, stay tuned as Maddy shares inspiring Pilates Reformer exercises designed for the upper body, lower body, core, and prenatal women.

The Fit Physique Guide to Pilates Reformer: Part 1 – Upper Body Exercises

Pilates Reformer Guide - Upper Body Exercises - Bicep Curls

Pilates Reformer Move: Bicep Curls

We can never try to tone our arms enough, right? We all want to be able to wear a tank top without thinking twice about what’s jiggling as we hail a cab or wave goodbye to our friends. This bicep curl will work the front of the arm as well as the shoulder. Being in a kneeling position will also work your core and thighs. Why not kill a few birds with one stone, or tone a few muscles with one exercise?

While kneeling, lean back just a little to feel the front of the thigh engage. Keep the core tight as you curl the arms in and out. Trying to keep the elbows at shoulder height will keep maximum resistance. If holding the arms this high puts tension in the neck muscles, you may lower the arms slightly. It will feel as though you have lightened the weight as the arms drop lower.

Pilates Reformer Guide - Upper Body Exercises - Chest Expansion

Pilates Reformer Move: Chest Expansion

Hello, bingo wings! This exercise works the back of the arms as well as opens up the chest for better posture. Did you know that you appear more confident when you stand with your shoulder back and chest lifted?

Kneeling with the core tight, keep your arms straight, fingertips pointing down towards the floor. Pull the arms back slowly with control (so you don’t lose your balance). Think about pulling the shoulder back to really open the chest and utilize back muscles too. 

Pilates Reformer Guide - Upper Body Exercises - Hug The Moon

Pilates Reformer Move: Hug the moon

Did you ever take ballet as a young girl? Envision wearing that pink tutu and holding your head high. This exercise is a ballet-inspired move that will tone your arms and make you feel as graceful as a ballerina.

Kneel with the core engaged and good posture. Slowly round the arms up overhead. You will work your shoulders as you bring your arms up and down. Working one arm at a time does not allow the stronger arm to take over. To make this exercise more challenging, you may hold a weight in the outer arm.

Pilates Reformer Guide - Upper Body Exercises - Draw The Sword

Pilates Reformer Move: Draw a sword

Don’t you love the names Joseph Pilates gave these exercises? It is just like it sounds. Starting down by your hip, draw your arm across your body and up to the sky as if you are drawing a sword out of your belt loop. This works the shoulders again as you pull across and the tricep as you extend your arm straight overhead. Try to separate the movement so that you wait to extend the arm until the elbow is up as high as it can go.

Pilates Reformer Guide - Upper Body Exercises - Hug a Tree

Pilates Reformer Move: Hug a tree

You know that pesky bra bulge right in front of your armpit? Let’s take care of that with this one. And those annoying push-up bras that dig in and make you want to get home so you can rip it off? Let’s push up the chest and “lift your girls” the natural way.

Sitting up straight, keeping a flat back, round your arms in front of you like you are hugging a big beach ball. Try to keep the arms up high. When you open the arms back out to the sides, be cautious not to allow the hands to get past your body. You will feel your pectoral muscles and a little bit in the shoulders too. Oh, and it only works if you chant, “we must, we must, we must improve our busts” while doing it. 😉  

For more exercise tips and tutorials from fitness experts and celebrity trainers, check out the Fitness section on Inspirations & Celebrations. Be well and stay inspired on your fitness journey!

Fitness Contributor: Maddy Crouch

Contributor Maddy CrouchMaddy Crouch has been a Certified Pilates, Barre & TRX instructor since 2012. She opened her first studio (Physique Exercise Salon) in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, California just after graduating from college. Being an entrepreneur fulfilled her dreams, but helping others feeds her soul. Maddy is a new mom and gained a different appreciation for all that Pilates can do for the body when getting back into shape after having her son. As a fitness contributor to Inspirations & Celebrations, Maddy shares exercise and fitness tips to help you tone up, trim down, and get a fit physique.


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