Despite being no stranger to a yoga matt the idea of doing Pilates always intimidated me. Reformer Pilates even more so.
The idea of pulling myself up and down on what looked like a medieval torture device was a bit confronting, and combined with my lack of general balance, I wasn’t confident that I wouldn’t not fall off mid-class.
The whole damn thing also looked really painful and managed to extinguish any desire I had for killer abs – something that wavers easily at the best of times anyway.
However, a new-found desire to 'push myself' and 'feel the burn' somehow led me to a 6pm Pilates Beginner class at KX Pilates and here's the thing... it wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it was going to be, and it worked. Like seriously worked.
Yes, it was a struggle to laugh or cough the days that followed said workout, but as I walked out of that class there was a new found ballet-esque quality in my posture that I wasn't expecting.
Just like Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
Speaking to James Trenery, KX Pilate's South Australia Training Manager, he says that the benefits of reformer Pilates comes from the fact that it's a dynamic and balanced workout.
Unlike exercises that only incorporate one movement, like push-ups, burpees or jump squats, in a reformer session you're using resistance from metal springs in the bed to move forwards and backwards, paired with rotating and extending motions that strengthen the whole body.
This can also reduce your chance of injury, which James says occurs when you put too much pressure or stress too quickly on a specific part of your body - like a single muscle or joint.
"The reformer is actually quite a sophisticated machine," James told Mamamia.
"You could say that your risk of injury is less than other classes due to its low-impact nature and balanced movements. However, as a result of the resistance,. you're still getting the muscle development, increasing bone density and strengthening your muscles, tendons and ligaments, all at the one time."
Extra good news: it's something that's likely to have long-term benefits too, as you're building overall muscular balance which again minimises your risk to injury. This means less downtime because it's unlikely you'll do any damage.
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KX National Training Manager Amie Skinner also adds that by constantly controlling, supporting and balancing your body when on the reformer, you're able to "fire up those smaller stabiliser and core muscles."
This is also great for anybody who wants a more defined core, AKA visible abs. *raises both hands*.
Now with six classes under my belt, despite the fact that each session is still a challenge, the movements are quite intuitive... and I've yet to fall off the machine and face plant into the ground - something which I know now wasn't a legitimate anxiety.
While I spend most of the class trying to focus really hard on consecutively pulling the straps, staying upright, and very mindfully breathing through burning abs and glutes, it's also fun - a word I promise with all my journalistic integrity to NEVER use lightly when talking about exercise.
Is it tough? Yes, but there's also the element of novelty as your pulling yourself forward and backwards on the reformer machine that keeps you entertained long enough to avoid thinking about 'the burn'.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about the exercise is that you need a prerequisite level of fitness to first participate. This isn't true.
"Most people are fitter than they think they are," says James.
His best piece of advice for newbies? "I think reformer Pilates for the first time should be an experience more like self- learning and problem solving."
Ultimately, go into the class with an open mind and have a play, as James says.
"It’s more important to go in with an open mind and think ‘how does this reformer work with my body?’ as opposed being rigid, controlled and only technique-based."
"See how your body moves around with the resistance and just have fun."
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