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How to Use a Pilates Performer

The Pilates Performer is a smaller, budget version of the classic Pilates Reformer. It is designed for home, as opposed to studio use. While the machine is designed to work every muscle in your body, the core muscles should be actively engaged throughout each exercise. When the technique was created in the 1920s, Joseph Pilates called it Contrology. As such, every movement should be performed with maximum control.


15 Steps to Use a Pilates Performer

How to Use a Pilates Performer


1. Clear an area for your Pilates Performer.

Ideally, it should not be an area where children or pets like to play. Make sure that the machine is on a level surface.


2. Attach the tension cords into the allotted slots, then adjust the cords according to your strength.

More cords equals more resistance.


3. Lie on your back with your shoulder in alignment with the shoulder pads, and your feet on the foot bar.


4. Inhale, and use your quads and glutes to straighten both legs.


5. Exhale, and use your hamstrings to bring you back to the flexed position.


6. Remove the shoulder pads and attach the upper body cables.

Adjust the machine so that it is on an incline. The stronger your abs, the greater the incline.


7. Face the cables, and hold one in each hand.

Your knees will be bent.


8. Inhale, and roll back until your shoulder blades touch the pad.

Unlike yoga, you will not be expanding your belly.


9. Exhale, draw your belly to your spine, and return to the upright position.

As you become more advanced, you can try it with straight legs. You can also go through the full range of motion, and allow your head to touch the mat.


10. Sit on the machine and hold on to both upper body cables.

Pull them close to your body. This will keep you from using your arms to cheat.


11. Inhale to prepare.

As you exhale, use your obliques to rotate your upper torso. Perform 12 repetitions, and then sit on the other side of the machine and repeat.


12. Keep the machine on the incline.

Lie on your back with your shoulders facing the cables, and your feet facing the floor.


13. Grasp the cables, and pull your hands towards your hips.

If done correctly, your lats will be engaged.


14. Lift your legs.

If your abs are strong, the legs are straight. If you are a beginner, keep your knees bent.


15. Lift your head from the pad.

Begin a pumping action with your arms. Breath in for five counts, and then breath out for five counts. The head stays off the mat. Repeat the cycle 10 times, until you reach 100 pumps. Think of pulling up in the front and down in the back.


Tips and Warnings

  • Most Pilates Reformer exercises can be performed on the Performer. Enroll in a Pilates class. While the instructions that come with the Pilates Performer are comprehensive, the Pilates technique is subtle. Instructor feedback can make you aware of alignment and muscle imbalance issues. Practice engaging your core on a daily basis. Draw your navel towards your spine, and hold your belly tight for 10 seconds. Do this 10 times a day. Engaging your core while using the Pilates Performer will make the exercise more effective.
  • Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Watch the set-up video. Many people miss this step. However, the written instructions are not always that obvious, so it’s a good idea to get a visual image of the machine’s set up.


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