Workout of the Week:
It’s time to highlight some more fitness offerings in Amsterdam which is why I recently tried Pilates Reformer at SMARTBODY AMSTERDAM.
You’ve probably seen the rise in popularity of Pilates Reformer because it’s become the favorite workout for models and actors who seek that long, lean, Hollywood physique. I mean, who doesn’t want that!?
What is Pilates Reformer?
At first glance, the Pilates Reformer looks like a medieval torture device. Used to help build long, lean and strong muscles, it is done while you lay on reformer (which is a bed with springs and straps attached) and by pulling or pushing the carriage against the spring tension and also returning the springs to the starting point, you work the maximum length of the muscle. This helps build lean muscle instead of bulk. It’s a full body workout because of the constant resistance of spring tension on a moving apparatus. Your body is constantly working during your movement. So not only is does Reformer Pilates help tone your body but it also improves posture and core stability and gives you that wanted definition in your arms, legs and abs.
My First Pilates Reformer Experience
Now, I consider myself to be pretty fit. With all the fitness I do, I was pretty confident with my core strength and stability when getting on a reformer. Yet 10 seconds in and I was sorely mistaken -- in a good way! The bars and cables of the reformer made my body work in a completely different way than any other type of fitness. Jelena, the owner of SmartBody and instructor of my group reformer class was extremely knowledgeable and helpful in guiding me with the right movement and posture. I won’t lie, it’s a bit frustrating at first, because the work is slow and challenging and completely different than other patterns of movement used in fitness. But anyway I can challenge my body in a new and different way is a good one, which means there is only room for growth. Towards the end of my first class I started to feel more comfortable with the movement and I can see how attending Pilates Reformer frequently can be addicting.
I also tried a Springboard class. With Pilates Springboard, the springs are directly in front or behind the body which means it’s just you and the springs and requires more control and body strength. I think I preferred Springboard over the Reformer but it seems preference for one over the other is probably a personal matter. Most people like both because of the challenge, muscle toning results, better coordination, and better posture.
Jelena Petrovic, owner of SmartBody, founded the studio in 2006. It was the first Pilates studio in Amsterdam, and the second in the Netherlands. With a great location in Amsterdam Centrum, all classes are offered in English and students vary between long term clients who have been coming for years but also lots of beginners are joining daily. Smartbody also gets referrals from doctors, osteopaths and other practitioners to work with clients recovering from injury. Jelena says, “The Pilates method is an incredibly effective, safe and inspiring method of physical and mental conditioning. Literally anyone can do Pilates - top athletes, clients with back problems, pre and postnatal women, the elderly, desk workers, recreational athletes, dancers, musicians, actors. I can't think of a single population that wouldn't benefit from doing Pilates.”
It’s evident when you’re at Smartbody, that all its teachers are exceptionally well trained in Pilates, are great educators and care massively about teaching good Pilates. This is important because in Pilates, the devil is in the details! You need an expert eye and expert hands to clarify the right movements and guide you to do them safely. I can vouch for this personally as my instructors were right there correcting my form and helping me achieve greater results!
First timer? Don't be timid!
Jelena recommends to newcomers with no Pilates experience, to start with a private lesson at the studio. You get 60 minutes of expert instruction, undivided attention and a skilled set of hands working with your body. Especially if you are injured or coming back from an injury, its a smart and safe way to ease into fitness.
Another option, like I did, is to join a Group Reformer, Springboard or Mat class on your first visit. Just be aware that the amount of new information can feel a little overwhelming and there is a bit of a learning curve to it. But if you want long, lean muscles, better coordination and a stronger core, this is your workout.