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Workshop: Intermediate Reformer Around the Studio

Who is this for?

This is for anyone just starting off on their Pilates journey. 

If you’re new to Pilates, it is strongly recommended that you take the Starter’s Workshop, or have a First Lesson and take the “Starter’s” Package of lessons as these exercises build on the Starter exercises.

What we'll be doing...

In this workshop we’ll be looking at the Intermediate Reformer exercises on Reformer and on all the other apparatus around the studio. 

If you’re looking for Reformer Foundations: click here

Please do take the Starter’s workshop before this one. That is because we still practice the Basic exercises at Intermediate level. If you aren’t familiar with those, you’ll feel quite lost.

Some Big Picture stuff:

These ideas help to make everything much more simple and straightforward!
1. The Mental aspect of Pilates

I like to think that there are are three elements: concentration, determination & memorisation.

You need to concentrate on your alignment and movement.

You need determination to make “further supreme mental efforts, (to) strive to better your original attempt”.

You need to memorise the order of the exercises. Pretty old fashioned, I know.

2. The Body aspect of Pilates

When you’re practising Pilates you’re not a patient, but a student. Physiotherapy and Personal Training both use increased load and number of repetitions as the measure of improvement – but not Pilates. Pilates works in a totally different way to to build strength, stretch and above all, control.

And the control part is the most important because it makes you use your mind.

2. The Spiritual aspect of Pilates

You need to practise patience, perseverance and consistency.

Be patient with yourself – a difficult task in our modern world in which quick fixes are valued over patience. 

You’ll need to practise perseverance to conquer the things that you least like and find the most difficult.

Consistency is how the tortoise beats the hare. And the tortoise always wins. Inconsistency is the devil’s work!

4. You don’t need to be either strong nor mobile.

Strength and mobility are the objectives, not the prerequisites.  Pilates designed his system for imperfect bodies.

5. Mat or Reformer - which is best?

Doing only Mat only or Reformer only is leaving big chunks of the pie behind.

6. On being Perfect

Pilates is not about perfection. Perfection is a self persecutory myth.
Pilates isn’t just exercise. It’s personal development. It’s learning.

7. On Patience

It’s like I gave birth and on the same day I want that baby to start walking, which of course is impossible.

The "Principles of Pilates”

Breathing, Centering, Control, Precision, Flow, Concentration. 

They are very good. But they didn’t come from Joe. They came from Romana Kyzanowska. Romana claimed that she dictated the contents of the book “The Pilates Method of Mental and Physical Conditioning” (1980 & 2005) the first ever detailed Pilates manual.

The authors credited were Philip Friedman (an author and journalist) & Gail Eisen’s (a television news producer).

If you think about it, good as they are, they aren’t special to Pilates: being a nurse, driving, playing football, handwriting, all require these “principles”

On the Intermediate Reformer Order

  • The Starter exercises are still practised, but the order changes.
  • Inversions (going upside down onto shoulders), Spinal Extension, Side Bending and Rotation in movement all start at intermediate.
  • Flow: think Starters: 50% precision & 50% flow. Intermediate 30% precision & 70% flow.
  • The focus is still on the centre and lower powerhouse (pelvic girdle), but there’s more upper powerhouse (shoulder girdle) work now – all radiating from the centre.
  • The idea of “midline” and “powerhouse” is introduced.

The Intermediate Reformer Exercise List

The full workshop contents aren’t listed here so that they don’t get copied and used without permission

We will be looking at these exercises listed on Reformer and other apparatus around the studio.

The Exercises from the Basic Repertoire are listed in their places to maintain the order. And there are some advanced exercises included here as a stepping stone to the real advanced work.

Footwork – Starters

Footwork Tendon Stretch – Starters

One Hundred – Starters

Short Spine Massage


Long Box Swan

Long Box: Pulling Straps & T Pull

Long Box: Backstroke

Long Box: Backstroke Transition

Long Box: Teaser & Teaser with Arm Circles

Long Stretches: Long Stretch

Long Stretches: Down Stretch

Long Stretches: Up Stretch

Long Stretches: Long Back Stretch

Long Stretches: One Legged Elephant variation

Stomach Massage: Twist

Seated Tendon Stretch – Stomach Massage Ending


Knees Stretches Round Back & Flat Back – Starters

Running – Starters

Pelvic Lift – Starters

Front Splits – Starters

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