Why your decision isn't Reformer OR Mat, but Reformer AND Mat
At MOVE Studios in Denver, CO we offer Pilates Reformer classes and Pilates Mat and Movement classes. When Pilates students ask which class they should take, my answer is BOTH. To understand why, you need to understand how Joseph Pilates created his system.
Originally, all of the work done by Mr. Pilates was on the floor with no equipment, and this work was called Contrology and documented in a book of the same name. We currently refer to these exercises as Pilates Mat work. But when he started dealing with populations that were more impaired, he began to develop equipment that assisted his students in learning the work in various ways. He ultimately developed about 22 different pieces of assistive equipment, the most popular of which we see today in any full-functioning Pilates studio: The Trap Table (or “Cadillac”), the Pilates Reformer, the Pilates Chair, the Spine Corrector, the Ladder Barrel. But all of these and more were created as a means to strengthen the body to facilitate the MAT WORK.
Pilates Reformer classes are the backbone of the Pilates industry, and if you ask the average student why they choose those classes over a mat class or a chair class, they will often say “it’s more fun!” So there is an understandable draw to Reformer. But at MOVE Studios, we see the Denver, CO crowd makes significantly better progress toward their own movement improvement goals when they combine Mat Classes WITH Reformer Classes. Just as Joe intended, we see them able to work on their skills with the assistance of the Reformer, and then be challenged to translate that work into Mat exercises without assistance.
Why is Mat work important? Because, the last I checked, we don’t walk through life with a bungee cord, or a spring, or a Reformer strapped to us. Ultimately, we need to learn the right way to move, and the right muscles to fire in the right amounts, while we’re sitting, standing, walking, picking things up, putting things down, bending over, lifting things, crawling around the floor looking for something…you get the idea! By upping your game to include a weekly mat class you are forced to do what our instructors at MOVE Studios ask you to do at the end of every Reformer class: bring the work into the rest of your life. It’s not what you do IN the studio that counts, it’s what you do OUT of the studio that changes everything. Mat class will make you learn to integrate your Reformer class learning into your everyday activities through performing flexion, extension, rotation, etc without assistance.
And, if you are arguing “my cardio sculpt/kick boxing/crossfit (fill in your favorite) class does that”, think again. All of those classes, once again, are using some form of resistance, or are training you for a specific action. Pilates is the thing you do in order to do EVERYTHING else. So maybe it’s kick boxing or crossfit, or maybe it’s picking up your children or grandchildren. But learning to effectively and efficiently work your entire body, with no assistive resistance, and in all planes of movement not just a specific sport vocabulary, is what you can get from Pilates Mat and movement classes.
If you find yourself intimidated by Mat class, don’t be. At MOVE Studios, we focus on teaching movement fundamentals along with the Pilates repertoire. We also do incorporate props to assist on an as needed basis depending on the students in class. We also do Pilates Mat Classes where we specifically feature the OOV, or the Pilates ARC (a Balanced Body creation that is similar to the Spine Corrector), and sometimes even the MOTR (also made by Balanced Body). So Mat Class can be just as fun as Reformer Class with the right instructors, and you will see and experience the difference in your daily activities, your athletic pursuits, and of course the quality of your work in Reformer Classes. Remember, for the best results from your Pilates investment, combine