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Reformer: Short Box Series Reformer Set Up


Reformer Short Box Series: Set Up

– To save space and avoid repetition, I’ve put the initial Set Up instructions for the Short Box Series here.





  • Springs = all of them
  • Headrest = down
  • Footrest = up

Before we begin …

  • The Short Box Abdominal Series contains the whole kernel of the Pilates System:
  • Round Back = Roll Up on the Mat – spinal flexion & then extension around stable limbs in a strap…
  • Reach (Flat Back) = Neck Pull – spinal Extension around stable limbs in a strap…
  • Side to Side = Side Bend on the Mat – lateral flexion around stable limbs in a strap…
  • Twist = Twist on the Mat – Rotation around stable limbs in a strap…
  • Climb a Tree = Single Leg Circles on the Mat around as stable limb in a strap and one stable limb in the air!!!

It’s easy to forget about the lower body – but that is the key to this whole series – it’s literally what keeps us sable.
Don’t forget about your lower body!
You’ll work hard to perfect the shapes of the top half of the body, but you’ll need to pay attention to what’s going on in the lower body.
The strength of the lower body is the foundation on which the top half works…
At first it will be hard to exert enough tension on the straps to keep them tight and quiet.
Be patient and practice.  Often.
If the straps go slack or you move forward on the box as you work, just stop, move back and make the straps tight again. In time you’ll see that working the strap is part of the exercise.
And the same is true for the Mat – but that’s a different convo….

The Set Up

The distance of the Box from the Footstrap affects the difficulty of the exercise…

  • Use all the springs to prevent the carriage from moving.
  • Put your box crosswise over your Reformer carriage. You can put it in front or behind the shoulder rests depending on your body height.
  • The distance of the box from the footstrap affects the difficulty of the exercise: the more stretched out your legs are the more difficult the exercise becomes. When starting off, you can have your legs bent. As you get more confidence and progress your legs could be fully straightened during the whole of the series.
  • When you sit on the box use your hand to measure the distance between your butt and the rear edge of the box. This space should measure measure one hand width. This means that the back of the pelvis (sacrum) will be completely supported by the box when you roll down.
  • Your feet hook underneath the foot strap.
  • Your feet are flexed (think footwork heels) and your legs are open to maintain a firm stable grip.  If you can, keep your legs lifted.
  • On original Reformer models the hip flexors were constantly working to keep your legs lifted at all times. This is often difficult on modern reformers because the calves rest against the front edge of the carriage or the lower part of the calves rest on the foot plate.  But supporting the legs under our own power, rather than allowing the legs to rest, is one of the objectives of the exercises.
  • The whole series is about moving the spine and pelvis around stable legs.
  • To begin, sit tall and squeeze the sit bones together lengthen from the waist.


Hints & Tips

Start off this Series on the Ladder Barrel.  There are two advantages.

  1. You’ll be Rolling UP a Barrel instead of over a flat box
  2. The Ladder gives much more solid and firm support than a strap which can move around.


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