The Benefits of the Pilates Reformer

Pilates Reformer Benefits

If you’ve never exercised with a Pilates Reformer before, it might just look like a medieval torture device. But don’t be afraid: The reformer might be the tool you need to totally transform your body and take your workouts up a notch (or ten.) There’s a reason celebrities like Meghan Markle and Karlie Kloss swear by it.

What is the Reformer?

The Pilates reformer is a tool invented by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates to help strengthen and lengthen the muscles.

It includes a flat platform which is attached to the end of a frame by springs. That set of springs allows the user different levels of resistance. There is also a foot bar and long straps with handles to provide a full range of motion for different moves.

This one machine offers several modifications and opportunities for an extensive variety of exercises. So whether you’re new to the reformer or have been using one for years, there is always something new to learn.

Here are some reasons you should give the reformer a shot this year:

Strengthen Core Muscles

There is more to a strong core than endless crunches. The core is the cornerstone of many Pilates moves, and the reformer is a good example of that. The reformer’s rolling carriage and varying levels of spring resistance means the core has to work extra hard to support and stabilize the body.

You’ll be using your core in new and challenging ways, sometimes without even realizing it.

You can thank your core for better posture and balance, and the reformer will help you train those muscles quickly.

Eccentric Muscle Contractions

Pilates is famous for creating long, lean muscles without adding bulk. Where does that come from? Eccentric muscle contractions, which is when a muscle lengthens as it resists force. And when you use the reformer, that is exactly what you’ll be doing.

You’ll use the other two types of muscles contractions, concentric and isometric, as well. But there is special attention paid to eccentric contractions.

The reformer helps you strengthen and lengthen through pushing and pulling exercises, and using the springs to adjust resistance.

Evolution of Strength and Balance

The reformer might look intimidating, but it’s actually accessible to people at all stages of their Pilates journey. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry - there are plenty of introductory exercises to help you get used to working out on the reformer.

Part of the beauty of using a reformer is that you can use it to continually evolve. As you get stronger, you can increase spring resistance and incorporate different moves. If you need to modify, you can do that, too.

There are so many options using this one machine, and our students who work with it regularly love the versatility it offers.

Check out our schedule to join a reformer class, or contact us if you have questions.

Our Plank Family: Get to Know the Team!

The heart and soul of Plank Pilates is our incredible team. These women come from all different backgrounds and experiences, and they bring their own personality to their classes. We wanted to shine a spotlight on each of them and give you a chance to get to know even more about your favorite instructors with some fun questions!:

Jill Hambrick, Owner and Pilates Instructor


When did you first started practicing Pilates/Yoga/Barre- My first Pilates class was a Pinot and Pilates party in December 2015. I immediately fell in love and started my Pilates journey through consistent Private reformer training and mat classes throughout the winter of 2016. I started taking Barre in the Summer of 2016. I started practicing Yoga once we started offering it at Plank in the summer of 2017.

How long you have been teaching pilates/yoga/barre- Summer 2016

Favorite local restaurant-Haynes on Main in Mackinaw

Favorite way to unwind- Read or Snuggle with my little man Truman

Favorite dessert-Key Lime Pie

Favorite song/album to work out to-When on the reformer I like to listen to Ray Lamontaugne.  When doing cardio I like to listen to LMFAO :)

Favorite song to karaoke to-  Salt and Peppa- Schoop

Favorite fall activity- Pumpkin Festival with my family.

Katie Dubois - Pilates and Barre Instructor

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When you first started practicing pilates/yoga/barre

I found a love for Pilates 14 years ago when a Pilates class was offered at the gym I belonged to.  I started going to the class weekly and loved the moves and the way I felt during and after class. I continued practicing (and later teaching Pilates) for many years and then found Barre in the same way I found Pilates.  I started attending a Barre class about six years ago and I became instantly hooked. I loved the barre burn and the barre shake. I also loved how much Pilates and Barre compliment each other.

How long you have been teaching pilates/yoga/barre

I obtained my AFAA Group Fitness Certification nine years ago and began teaching group fitness classes.  I did a Pilates workshop through AFAA and also obtained my Spinning certification. This led to me teaching weekly Pilates mat and Spinning classes.  In the past two years I have continued learning more by taking numerous Balanced Body Pilates courses including Mat 1 and Mat 2, Reformer 1, and Apparatus 1 trainings.  I also recently took a Barre Intensity course. I have been teaching Pilates classes for over nine years and I have been teaching barre classes for over two years. I feel blessed to be able to share my love of Pilates and Barre with clients, and I teach these formats five days a week.

Favorite local restaurant

With three small children my favorite restaurants are loud environments where I don't have to worry about keeping my kids quiet!  Our favorite places to eat out as a family are Qudoba, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Chilli's.

Favorite way to unwind

I love spending time with my kids.  We love being together and just having fun.  Small weekend trips to Indy and St. Louis are some of my favorite times.  We love to explore parks, museums, and zoos. Over the summer we swim as much as we can as a family.  In the spring and fall, hiking as a family brings us all so much joy. But honestly, if I'm with my kids and husband, I'm happy.

Favorite dessert

I love chocolate covered fruit (like blueberries or strawberries) and chocolate covered nuts.

Favorite song/album to work out to

I don't have a favorite song or album to workout to.  I love variety in my music. Sometimes a pop song is my favorite, sometimes it is a rock song, and sometimes it is a country song.  I just love music and the movement it inspires.

Favorite song to karaoke to

I have never done karaoke in my life but if I did I think I would choose "I Will Survive" or "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."  Or perhaps I should choose a Disney movie song because I know ALL of those.

Favorite fall activity

Fall is my favorite season.  I love everything about fall from the decorations, the smells, the weather, the clothes, the things to do, etc.

My favorite fall activity though is taking my kids to Tanner's, Ackerman's and Rader's.  We have fun playing, seeing the animals, choosing pumpkins, taking hayrack rides, and eating apple everything.

Abi Amstutz - Yoga Instructor

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When you first started practicing pilates/yoga/barre - 13 years old, taking yoga with my Mom (it was her first time too!)

How long you have been teaching pilates/yoga/barre- I've been teaching for two years

Favorite local restaurant- Eat and Evolve or Corelife

Favorite way to unwind- Yoga! (Or a glass of wine and some painting )

Favorite dessert- I'm allergic to chocolate and coffee so I don't always have a ton of options but a glazed donut always hits the spot.

Favorite song/album to work out to- Currently it's any song by Lorde

Favorite song to karaoke to- Do Disney songs count? Because definitely Disney!

Favorite fall activity- Wearing scarves and fluffy house sock slippers

Casey Moltrup - Barre and Pilates Instructor


When you first started practicing pilates/yoga/barre- I fell in love with Pilates in 2016 when it helped me totally transform my core strength  after having two babies by cesarean. I was amazed at how strong I became and saw my posture change before my eyes.  I knew from that point on, I wanted to share my excitement with other people and help them find their strength again!  Nothing makes me happier than cheering people on during their fitness journey!

How long you have been teaching pilates/yoga/barre- I have been teaching Pilates and Barre for 2 years.  

Favorite local restaurant- I don't know if I have a favorite restaurant (any place with fresh guacamole really), but my husband and I love to cook!  We especially love to cook for friends and family. It's funny considering I did not cook for years, but once I learned, I now find it therapeutic and very relaxing.

Favorite way to unwind- I love to read!  I mostly read biographies or books about nutrition , health, wellness or the body in general.  I'm usually reading three books at once and have a nightstand full of others. I always have late fees at the library and should just start checking out with my debit card.  lol

Favorite song/album to work out to- I love to work out to hip-hop, but please don't ever ask me to sing publicly.  I once had someone tell me that I even sang Happy Birthday off key! Yikes!

Favorite fall activity- I love to boat in the summer and I love to hike in the fall.  The last few years I have been able to take trips in the fall to get some amazing hiking in.  My favorite place has been Cottonwood Canyon in Utah. This year my schedule is too packed, but I'm excited to discover some beautiful Illinois trails!

When I'm not teaching Barre or Pilates, my time is filled with photographing families and weddings.  Most Saturdays find me at weddings and I pinch myself every week that I'm so blessed to share in others such joyous occasions. I'm such a sap and every week is just as beautiful hearing people make vows to each other.  It never gets old! And I usually cry at least once during wedding day!

Jeni Pendl - Yoga Instructor


When you first started practicing pilates/yoga/barre- About 9 years ago, roughly a year after I had my son.

How long you have been teaching pilates/yoga/barre- Consistently since the beginning of 2018. I taught a little here and there a couple years prior.

Favorite local restaurant- One World

Favorite way to unwind- I enjoy hiking and spending time with my 10 year old son, Cole.

Favorite dessert- Coconut cream pie

Favorite song/album to work out to- Any Turnpike Troubadour album

Favorite song to karaoke to-I don't karaoke, lol!

Favorite fall activity- Hiking and bonfires with family and friends

Jamie Hafele - Pilates Instructor


When you first started practicing pilates/yoga/barre- 2007

How long you have been teaching pilates/yoga/barre- Since May 2018

Favorite local restaurant- 2 Chez in Peoria

Favorite way to unwind- A great workout on the reformer

Favorite dessert- Any gluten free donut from #donutlove

Favorite song/album to work out to- Cold Play- Viva La Vida

Favorite song to karaoke to- Sweet child of mine Guns n Roses

Favorite fall activity- Pumpkin carving with my hubby and boys

Megan Patterson - Pilates Instructor

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When you first started practicing pilates/yoga/barre- Pilates-July of 2016 in Jill’s basement.  I took my first barre late 2016 and yoga in 2017.  Love all of them now!

How long you have been teaching pilates/yoga/barre?- I started teaching Pilates February 2017.  I fill in occasionally for barre and started that late 2017.

Favorite local restaurant?- Perdues or Hacienda

Favorite way to unwind?- I have 3 ways to unwind and it all depend on how much time I have.  I like to work out (run, pilates, barre, yoga), read, or play a new game on my phone called word cookies.'

Favorite dessert- Carrot Cake or lately frozen hot coco from Eli’s. Don’t get yourself started, it’s hard to stop drinking it.

Favorite song/album to work out to?- It kind of depends on my mood, but right now I like Perm by Bruno Mars, or Natural by Imagination Dragons.

Favorite song to karaoke to?- Goodbye Earl, Dixie Chicks

Favorite fall activity?- Bonfires with friends and family.

Kristen Finck - Pilates Instructor

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When you first started practicing pilates/yoga/barre- I started Pilates in 2012. I was 16 at the time and used it to cross train for dance. It helped me to gain much more body awareness as well as work on less superficial muscle groups that are so often put to the wayside.

How long you have been teaching pilates/yoga/barre?- I’ve been teaching for a year now and have been certified in May and reformer since January 2018. (I officially went through training during the summer of 2017). I’ve been with Plank for one month (just moved here from Kansas City).

Favorite local restaurant?- I really love Old World! However, as an avocado toast aficionado, I can’t discount Zion Coffee (their avocado toast is out of this world).

Favorite way to unwind?- I love to sit poolside, on the beach, or curled up by the fireplace with my dog with a good book. You can also find me laughing and spending time with friends while enjoying a glass of Pinot noir.

Favorite dessert- Creme brûlée

Favorite song/album to work out to?- I like to run and workout to a mix of fast paced music. During especially rigorous workouts I like to put on Tech N9ne, Lil Jon, or other music that “motivates” me to continue. (It makes me feel like someone is yelling at me to continue and somehow it works? It’s a total mind game).

Favorite song to karaoke to?- I’m gonna be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers or any Mamma Mia/ ABBA song.

Favorite fall activity?- I love to go apple picking and sitting around bonfires with friends and family!

Pilates 101: What You Should Know

pilates 101

From the outside looking in, Pilates can look intimidating. A lot of people are hesitant to try it out because they're worried they're not flexible enough, not young enough, or even that they don't have the right clothes.

Here's the good news - none of that matters! The even better news is that at Plank Pilates Morton, we have a Pilates 101 course to help you build your Pilates foundation in an accessible, relaxed way. Here's what you should know:

What is Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise system that promotes a mind-body connection while focusing on strengthening and toning the entire body. It puts a special emphasis on the core, because in Pilates, the core is considered the powerhouse of the body.

Who can Benefit from Pilates?

Everyone! The moves in Pilates range from basic stretching to advanced moves on our Pilates machines. Regardless of where you are in terms of fitness, there is a place for you in Pilates.

The students in our classes range from teens to members in their seventies, so we welcome a wide range of people. It doesn't matter if you've spent the last few decades on the couch or you have been running five marathons a year; there is something for everyone in Pilates.

What is Pilates 101?

Our Pilates 101 course is a 6-week long program that introduces you to the foundations of Pilates, as they were taught by founder Joseph Pilates. We meet once a week for 6 weeks, plus a make-up week at the end for anyone who missed a class. You will learn proper form while building endurance and increasing your flexibility.

Our classes are small, usually about 10-15 attendees. That means that everyone in the class receives attention and guidance from a certified instructor in a casual, encouraging way.

Who should take Pilates 101?

If you are brand new to Pilates, our Pilates 101 program is the ideal way to get started. You'll review the principles and mat moves that make up a classic mat class. However, many of our students have taken Pilates 101 more than once.

For some of them, it's just the right amount of challenge for where they are on their fitness journey. For others, it's helpful to return to the foundations occasionally. Even if you're new to the studio but not Pilates, it's a wonderful way to familiarize yourself with our teaching style, facility and how our classes work.

What comes next?

After your Pilates 101 classes are done, we offer a Pilates 201 class if enough students are interested in it. This is a 4-week extension that continues on from our 101 classes.

If we don't offer that class, you're welcome to try our other classes (Pilates Sculpt and Total Barre are good options) or enroll in another round of Pilates 101. We host it year round.

Do I have to dress a certain way?

Nope! You don't have to shell out for Lululemon workout gear to come to our classes. At Plank, the focus is entirely on you learning something new and feeling great about yourself. As long as you're comfortable and able to move freely, you can wear whatever you'd like.

What else should I know?

This is a consistent class that builds off of what you learn every week. Because of that setup, it's best if you can make every class for the full 6 weeks. But if something comes up, we do offer the makeup class at the end to catch you up.

How do I sign up?

Pilates 101 is a 6-week course, so payment for the total program is due upfront. Our next session begins Tuesday, September 18. The cost to sign up is $60 for the total 6 weeks. You can contact us at or call 309-431-2387 to get started.