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Reformer Pilates in Soho NYC

The Pilates Reformer

Joseph Pilates on Reformer
Joseph Pilates on Reformer

The Pilates Reformer is the primary piece of equipment designed by Joseph Pilates. It is used in private sessions and small group settings alike.  Although the design has gone through some modern revisions the essence of the machine has remained the same. The reformer provides resistance for some 500 + Pilates exercises designed to coordinate and strengthen the body in a myriad of ways making it suitable for both beginner and advanced movers.

Pilates Reformer
Pilates Reformer

The reformer looks like a single bed frame that houses a sliding wheeled carriage. The carriage is tensioned by adjustable springs at one end and straps with handles on the other. The front end of the reformer has a foot bar with adjustable height settings that can be pushed by the hands or feet to move the carriage. This varied design provides for a vast number of positions in which to train the body. One can sit, stand, kneel, lie down front, side or back,  all while pulling the straps or pushing the bar.

Pilates Reformer Exercises

Pilates is more than an ingenious and versatile piece of exercise equipment. It is the philosophy behind the exercises and their relationship to the Reformer that make it truly unique. The movements, although strengthening, are not always used in direct resistance with the springs. In fact, sometimes the springs support the weight of the body and act as a teaching tool for proper mechanics. This allows one to learn how to lengthen, lift and open the body creating more ease and efficiency throughout the system at the same time building tone and endurance.  Counter intuitively, it is often the lighter spring tensions that are more challenging and strengthening as one aims to balance and control the movement.

man on reformer

One of the main Pilates principles is the idea that movement can be supported by the intrinsic muscles of the core.  When the core is coordinated with the rest of the body one moves with grace and efficiency, leaving less wear and tear on the joints and allowing a body to stay healthier and pain free longer. Core awareness can be the key to relieving back pain and many other neuromuscular issues.

Benefits of a Pilates Reformer Practice

The benefits of a Pilates practice on the reformer are an elongated spine, improved posture, increased strength and flexibility and an improved ability to participate in other physical activities such as sports, running and skiing, to name a few. What also makes Reformer Pilates so remarkable is that it works at all levels. The basic philosophies outlined above can be taught to anyone and at any level. Beginners thrive from learning the primary skills and there is still room to grow and accommodate even the most accomplished dancer or athlete.

women on reformer

Pilates Reformer at Mongoose Bodyworks Soho NYC

At Mongoose Bodyworks in Soho, NYC our sessions start with teaching the core principles on the mat and then reinforcing them on the Reformer. The majority of our NYC clients take private sessions but we do offer a few small group classes on the reformers for those that are interested. Although not required, we do recommend taking three privates before embarking on the group reformer classes. If you have any questions about the Pilates Reformer or our Soho NYC studio please contact us at info@mongoosebw.com.

Pilates and Scoliosis in Soho NYC

Pilates and Scoliosis in Soho NYC

Scoliosis is a medical condition involving sideways curvatures of the spine.  When looking at the spine from behind a scoliotic spine makes either an “S” or “C” shape instead of a straight vertical line. Scoliosis usually begins in adolescence but may also develop in adulthood. A diagnosis can be  confirmed by an X-ray that demonstrates lateral deviations of ten degrees or more. However, even smaller non-scoliotic curvatures  may be a source of physical discomfort.


The cause of most scoliosis is unknown but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors and can be related to neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Structural Scoliosis refers to structural changes in the vertebrae that create a “fixed” curvature. Functional Scoliosis is essentially a severe muscular imbalance as the underlying spine is physically normal. Scoliosis is often a combination of the two.

The lateral curves that characterize scoliosis are accompanied by rotations in the sagittal and transverse planes, causing the spine to spiral and alter the transmission of forces from head to toe. These 3-dimensional rotations appear as one hip higher than the other, uneven shoulders and prominent ribs on one side. The physical imbalances can cause pain in the low back, ribcage and neck and well as nerve symptoms down one leg. Pilates can help relieve the physical pain and spasming that can result from scoliosis by unwinding  these 3 dimension spirals through elongation of the spine, centering the torso and creating more muscular balance throughout the body as a whole.


Pilates teaches exercises that create natural length in the spine through muscular engagement, so the spine can be “pulled” out of these spirals. The curves themselves also must be directly addressed as there is often muscular hypertrophy on the long side of the curve due to the body trying to right itself. Pilates teachers are trained to teach with the specificity that is necessary for correcting and managing the curvatures. Once the deviations are lessened then the core is strengthened  to help  “set” the changes.  A functional/muscular scoliosis will respond very successfully to a Pilates program. A  structural scoliosis cannot be undone but can be  to be managed very effectively with Pilates so that painful muscular compensations don’t get out of control.

At Mongoose Bodyworks we have helped clients with both structural and functional scoliosis with great success. We have brought our clients much  relief and improved well being. Please contact us with any questions you may have about your body.