It seems like anytime a friend starts doing “reformer pilates” (where there’s a machine involved)  it doesn’t take long until they start seeing killer results, and I’m on my couch thinking huh, I should really give that a try one of these days.  So when we heard that celebrity favorite Pilates ProWorks was coming to Lincoln Park and bringing their custom built machines, called The Fitformer, with them I finally decided to see when the hype was all about.

We met with Pilates ProWorks instructor Jeanine, who showed us five key moves that the program uses to transform bodies.  But wait, it gets better… Jeanine also showed us how the exercises can be done at home without the Fitformer, in case you don’t live near one of their studios, or [insert excuse here].

The Twister

Place hands shoulder distance apart on the front Footbar of the FitFormer. Shoulders squared to the front of the machine. Twist your hips, opening them to the right as you cross the right foot behind the left, so left heel is touching right toes. Inhale push the carriage out to a plank position, exhale pull the carriage back in by squeezing and lifting through the hips, targeting the left oblique. Repeat for desired
amount of time. Holding the last one in side plank position. Left arm stays on the center of the foot bar and the right arm lifts up into the air then pulls under the left hip as the left hip raises up 2-3 inches, for a ‘threading of the needle action’.

Repeat on the other side. 1 yellow spring – foot bar 3rd position. Without Fitformer, place hands on ground, hold side plank, then add in ‘threading the needle’.

Sumo Squats with Shoulder Press

Standing on the front platform of the Fitformer facing either side, place one foot on the carriage in the grip zone and keep the other foot on front platform. Turn toes two to three inches out in an external rotation. Push the carriage out so feet are wider than shoulder distance apart and ankles are aligned with your knees, all while keeping the external rotation. While holding the carriage out, squat down on a 4 count and come back up on a 3 count. Squeezing inner and outer thighs, glutes, quads and hamstrings and even calves. Be sure to keep tailbone in a neutral position. Add in a shoulder press with hand weights. Arms bend to form a goalpost like position (never let elbow drop below shoulders) when squatting and as your extend up to standing arms form a touchdown like position. Repeat for a desired amount of time. Then hold in the squat position with goalpost arms. Rise up to the toes. Hold and pulse.  1 red spring. Without the Fitformer place feet on floor.

Epic Crunch with Hug a Tree

Sitting on the back platform facing forward. Pull the ropes of the carriage in and slide feet underneath the headrest strap.Lean back as you extend the legs, crunch forward as your bend the knees, pulling only with the core, not the hips. Add in arm weighs. As you lean back, arms come to the side, palms facing in, as you crunch up, hands come together by squeezing through the chest. Mix it up by adding in a cross jab with arms as you crunch up. 1 yellow spring. Without Fitformer, you can place feet under a stable surface or keep them on the ground.

The Happy Clam

Laying on the carriage in side coffee table position. Hips, shoulders stacked and aligned. Head on resting bicep as other hand is pressing into the carriage in front of the stomach to keep abs and spine activated. Place the loop above the primary (upper) knee. Bring heels together and float them off the carriage two to three inches. Then open and close the top leg by hinging from hip and heels, all while keeping heels together. BE sure not to rock hips open and closed, so to specifically target glutes and outter thighs. – 1 red – 1 yellow spring. Without Fitformer, lay on the floor, add hand or ankle weight for more of a challenge.

Carriage Plank with Pushup

Feet on the platform, bend from the knees and place hands on the waistline of the carriage. Push out into a plank position, be sure to keep the hands below shoulders, engaging through the core (booty down, belly up). Holding the carriage in place add in a set of push-ups. Leading with the chest and keeping the body aligned as you go down and come up. 1 yellow spring.

Adding on – For the added challenge, take this right into Pilates burpees. After your plank and push-up series, bend knees so to squat into the platform. Release hands from carriage and stand up on platform reaching towards the sky, adding in a hop for more of a challenge. Then squat back down, grab the waistline of the carriage and push out to a plank position, adding another push-up, squat back into the platform, reach up and hop towards the sky. Repeat. Speed up the pace to really get that heart rate up.

All of this can be done on the floor. However doing it on the Fitformer adds additional benefits as you are forced to use more of your core and chest to keep the carriage from moving.

[Photos By Hallie Duesenberg]

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2 Responses to Shaping Up with Pilates ProWorks

  1. libby says:

    babe I do pilates pro works 4 days a week and I am still not happy with my body. Any ideas?

    • thechicagolifeblog says:

      Hmmm, Have you talked to your local studio? I think I’d start by letting them know what your concerns are and seeing what they can recommend/modify? I’m not a fitness expert by any means, so I’m not sure I have advice to offer, but I can sympathize with that feeling all day long!

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