Pilates Reformer is quickly becoming one of the most popular fitness programs in the country. From celebrities and supermodels to athletes (including NFL football players) and even grandmas, it seems like everyone’s jumping on the Pilates bandwagon in recent years. And with good reason!
Based on the foundation of Pilates moves (created by Joseph Pilates), instead of using a mat, these exercises are done on a Reformer machine. Pilates Reformer exercises are great for strengthening and elongating muscles (creating a longer, leaner figure), making them one of the best exercise programs from workout newbies to fitness fanatics.
In collaboration with fitness instructor Maddy Crouch (the owner of Physique Exercise Salon in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California), Inspirations & Celebrations recently launched a new 4-part fitness tutorial series called the “The Fit Physique Guide to Pilates Reformer”. Over the past few weeks, Maddy shared inspiring Pilates Reformer exercises designed for the upper body (Part 1), lower body (Part 2), core (Part 3), and prenatal women (Part 4).
The Fit Physique Guide to Pilates Reformer: Part 4 – Prenatal Exercises
Pilates is excellent for pregnant ladies because it is easily modified. We can do exercises that are normally done lying supine propped up instead. It is very important to keep your legs and core strength so that the back does not get injured when the belly grows. Staying fit throughout pregnancy will help with an easier delivery and comeback!
Pilates Reformer Exercise: Standing Side Splits
This exercise works the gluteus medius, a harder to reach butt muscle. It feels like it is more on the side in the hip area and is a great burning exercise. Working this smaller muscle helps create stability and support the hip.
Standing on the reformer, you push evenly out and in to open and close the carriage. Making sure to keep control as you bring the carriage back in and not let it slam closed. Controlling the movement on the way in is just as much work as it is to push against the resistance. The resistance can be adjusted to be lighter or heavier depending on the client.
Pilates Reformer Exercise: Bicep Curls
Anyone who has had to carry an infant car seat around knows the importance of strong arms! Even a newborn baby can get very heavy after a 50 ft walk from car to the store or doctor’s office. Strong biceps will help a mama be able to carry her baby and baby gear without risking injury to her back.
During this exercise, we keep the elbows at shoulder height for maximum resistance. Extend the arms out straight and then curl back into this 90-degree position. 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 Exercise: Side-lying foot in the strap
This move is excellent for strengthening and stretching the hips and glutes. Having flexibility in the hips will help with your labor and delivery. Simple everyday movements like bending over will be less comfortable as your belly grows, so having strong legs and being able to bend down to pick things up off of the floor will be helpful.
Lying on your side allows a pregnant mama to work out without the risk of putting too much pressure on the vena cava. If the blood supply is cut off to this major blood vessel a woman can experience dizziness, nausea, and fatigue from the weight of the baby.
Supporting the upper body and keeping the leg parallel to the floor, bring the leg forward pointing the toes and then swing the leg back to be in line with the body flexing the foot. You will feel a hamstring stretch as you point forward and the glute muscles engage as your flex and bring it back.
Pilates Reformer Exercise: Mermaid Stretch
When it feels like you have a basketball shoved into your belly it is hard to move, let alone stretch! The mermaid stretch is perfect because you are supported by one arm and in a seated position. You always want to be careful when stretching while pregnant because the ligaments are more relaxed due to the hormone relaxin. Relaxin is a hormone secreted by the placenta that allows the cervix to dilate and prepare for the baby to be born.
This stretch is also good for the hips. Sitting in this position with one leg folded in front of your body and one alongside helps stretch the glutes and open up the hips. Make sure there is enough spring tension to support you as you start to lean and push the carriage out. Try to keep the outer hip down as you stretch overreaching your hand away from the hip.
Pilates Reformer Exercise: Seated footwork
Normally this exercise is done lying on your back in a supine position, but our mamas-to-be need some extra support. We always want to be conscious of not putting too much pressure on the vena cava. The Balanced Body® arc is amazing for this! It gives the lower back just enough support to allow mama to comfortably recline and still have room for her growing belly.
This exercise is most similar to a leg press. It works the quadriceps, inner thighs, and glutes. We do a number of different foot positions to access different little muscles. Starting in a parallel position either on your heels or toes, push the carriage out with control. Making sure to squeeze the glutes just like a squat. You can also do a small V with your feet, a wide V and calf raise.
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
Maddy 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.