What does the weird looking stuff do, how does it work and can you do Pilates without equipment?
Pilates exercises are designed to be learned in a progression from introductory basics through more challenging intermediate exercises and on to complex, co-ordinated flowing movements that require intense concentration and control. The result is a skill based conditioning technique that feels great to do and continually challenges people of all levels of movement ability.
Pilates instructors usually begin with basic Mat work. Other pieces of equipment used include:
The Reformer: the most widely used apparatus, consists of a sliding carriage on wheels that applies resistance with 5 springs, and system of rope pulleys. This moving platform provides a challenge to stability and allows the performance a massive array of flexibility and strengthening exercises of the entire body.
The Trapeze Table or Cadillac (sometimes even referred to as The Rack!) looks not unlike a four posted bed. Push-through bars and roll down bars as well as many spring attachments provide a large number of exercise variations. The individual springs make the Trap Table challenging to work because each limb has its own independent resistance.
The Chair (or Wunda Chair) is a small chair with a spring loaded pedal and handles on the sides for support. It allows for exercises to be performed in an upright orientation, which is more functionally specific to everyday human movements. Make no mistake though, this little piece of apparatus can humble even the most advanced trainers.
Barrels (Arc barrel, Small barrel, Spine corrector, Ladder barrel) provide amazing modifications to almost any exercise. They allow people of all postures a way of learning the exercises, assisted by the height or curve of the barrel. It is important within Equilibrium Pilates Systems to accommodate any body type - the client's ability and progression to greater movement skill is important not the difficulty of the exercise.
Accessories (Small and big Balls, Core Toner, Bands, Rotating discs, Back supporter) allow many ways of increasing the challenge of an exercise but sometimes even assisting the client to be able to perform the exercise with greater ease. They also provide the instructor with feedback about how balanced the client's body and movements are. Symmetry and balance of development are maintained with the help of accessories.(see pics.)
There are so many ways to adjust the focus of the exercises and many variations of the basic movements exist.
Most often accessories are used to create a version of the exercise that suits the client. This is the height of personalised exercise - exercises that change to suit your body type, with the aim of improving the way your neuromuscular system gets you to move within your environment.