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Powered up Pilates

Wanna work up a sweat and get a good workout while lying on your back? I've found just the thing.

Tut tut! You dirty lot. I’m talking about reformer Pilates – the fitness craze loved by celebrities including Naomi Campbell and Kate Hudson. And while the reformer might look like a tool for torture, a regular workout on one of these is a fast route to a hot bod.


Reformer pilates offers all the benefits of traditional mat-based Pilates, but with greater intensity and challenge. You’ll get a total body workout, sculpting and toning the whole body while strengthening core muscles and burning calories.

The workout is more dynamic than its mat-based sibling because reformer Pilates involves resistance through the springs, pulleys and bands on the reformer bed. It might sound like you’re having a nice lie down – but believe me, this workout will get you working.

That’s me in action on the reformer! Err, or maybe it’s actually Sian Marshall, the owner of Core! Okay. It’s Sian. Photo credit: Juliet Lemon


Core specialise in reformer Pilates – offering the classes in straight reformer as well as circuit reformer and jump reformer Pilates.

The circuits class involves using the different Pilates equipment – the cadillac, reformer, Pilates chair and Pilates barrel – doing a circuit of all the equipment with five different exercises. It’s a high tempo class.

But if you really want to feel the burn, sign up for the jump reformer classes at Core, which as well as the full body resistance exercises will get your heart rate going.


The Core studio is right in the heart of Cobham in the Fox House building on the corner of Church and the High street. It’s light, bright and modern, with three separate workout spaces – two reformer studios and one circuit studio. Classes are small and intimate.


I signed up for a one-hour jump reformer class with Holly. I’ve been told that Holly is affectionately nicknamed the smiling assassin, and I now know why. She works you hard, focussing on all the main muscles, guiding you to get the technique right. I liked Holly’s teaching style – she’s no sergeant major, but she pushes you to work hard, and gives lots of encouragement and applause when you’re achieving.

I was a virgin on the Pilates reformer, while my other classmates included a reformer regular (if ever there was a walking advert for reformer Pilates, this woman was it!) and another fairly newbie. That’s a long winded way of saying we were a mix of standards, but Holly catered to all of us, giving different difficulty options.

Afterwards, I felt I’d really worked my whole body effectively – one hour on the reformer feels like a great use of workout time. Legs. Tum. Arms. Bum. Tick, tick, tick and tick! You’ll hit on every muscle, and the next day you’ll most likely be feeling some you didn’t actually know existed.


Just regular gym workout gear – leggings and a t-shirt or vest top will do the trick.  There are no shoes in the studio, and you’ll probably want to skip socks too, or get some of those natty little footsocks with the anti-slip bits on the bottom.


Good for? This is a great all over workout – and I’d say it’s a great option for those who want to make the most of their workout time. Reformer Pilates is great for building core strength, lengthening and stretching muscles and burning calories. It ticks all the boxes really.

Not for? If you’re after a ferocious workout, this may not be your bag – you’ll certainly work hard, but it’s more graceful than brutal.

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