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The Workout Diaries Fad #7: The Reformer

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A few weeks into my quest for the best workout, a workout buddy mentioned a machine called The Reformer. While describing its uses, I could not get the picture of an 18th-century torture device out of my mind.

This week I was excited to try out MisFit Studio after being recommended by a friend. The studio can be found in an alleyway in a stunning converted old coach house. I initially signed up for a "Kick Ass Mat" class with no expectations whatsoever. When I arrived I was taken for a tour of the studio (did I mention it's gorgeous?) and came face-to-face with The Reformer.

Instructor Keri explained how the machine worked and all the benefits that went with the ancient looking device. After expressing interest (and fear) towards it, she decided to move our pilates workout onto The Reformer. Joy.

The Reformer is made up of a carriage that you lie down on and a bar where you prop your feet up. Hooking springy gears to the carriage takes the resistance up a notch to make the pushing or pulling harder. There are hand grips that can be used as well to work out your arms when your legs need a rest.

I'm going to be honest, this was a tough workout. When you first start pushing down on your legs to move the carriage up and down, you can tell that it's going to be a good workout. A few reps in and you feel the burn. Luckily, Keri went through the workout treating it almost like a yoga class. Soothing music and her even more soothing voice kept me calm and my breathing slowly paced. Moving us from our backs, to our sides for individual leg work outs to putting our legs in the hand grips for a whole new experience, Keri made sure every area got a workout.

Here's a short snippet of my inner thoughts:

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10 a.m. -- This is comfy. I wish I could do more workouts lying down. Wait...no. Not like that....

10:02 -- Oh...once you hook these gears on, the carriage suddenly gets harder to move.

10:05 -- Jeez this place is so gorgeous. I could totally live here. I mean there's no kitchen but...whoops, reps already, huh? No one will notice. ...Eight, nine, ten!

10:14 -- Okay, this machine totally isn't so scary! Putting TV's on the ceiling would rock.

10:20 -- Stretching our "shoulder girdles"? Did I bring mine?

10:35 -- Keri! You are not counting properly! Aw....I can't stay mad at you!

10:40 -- Having my head on this squishy ball is pure heaven. All this pain is SO worthy just a few minutes of squishy ball time.

10:47 -- Using my arms to pull this thing only reinforces the fact that I have absolutely no upper body strength. No wonder I sucked at pole dancing.

10:50 -- The more reps I do with this weighted ball, the shorter my arm span gets.

10:52 -- Just when I think I'm failing at fitness, Keri gives me a huge smile, a thumbs up and a "Great job, Bianca!" She's just the bestest.

10:55 - With my feet hooked into the hand grips and legs up in the air, I'm pretty sure I look like I'm trapped in an archaic torture chamber.

11:00 - Yay, cool down time. I gotta find more workouts where I can be on my back. No! Not in that context....shut up.

End Result: Not as bad as I had assumed. In the first ten minutes of the class I was sure that by the end my charlie horses would have charlie horses. While my arms are a little sore, my legs are doing great. By the end of the night the thighs feel tight but it's gone in the morning. All my appendages feel wonderfully stretched out.

Effort: Lying down, the effort is all in how many reps you're able to do. You feel the burn but it's everywhere except your lungs. I sometimes find myself short of breath so this was perfect. The burning sensation in the arms and legs are practically mandatory but as long as you remember to breathe and pace yourself, you'll definitely be able to power through.

Return Trip?: I would definitely try to come back. If not to feel amazing after conquering The Reformer, then to take Keri's class again. She was able to tell right away if I was pushing my limit and was continuously giving great tips on how to modify movements while still challenging myself.