I was just at at workshop where we had taken my classical reformer and used it side by side a contemporary model reformer, no I’m not going to go there and bag on other manufacturers designs, as a matter of fact, I’m friends with manufacturers of both types of apparatus, and I have owned and worked on several pieces from different manufacturers and have settled on what feels best for my body.
The experiment was eye opening, I have heard all the discussions, and have tried other apparatus. An event I was at, where a well known Pilates manufacturer was working on creating a blended sort of machine that had all the components you look for in a classical reformer with some of the bells and whistles of a contemporary. It didn’t work for me. I tried to like it, I really like new toys, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around what exactly didn’t feel right.
I’m NOT the expert, I don’t know what things should measure, I’ve had most of my education regarding those things from Siri Dharma Galliano. SHE KNOWS what the dimensions should be, she and Vil re-do, retro-fit, put back together all sorts of pieces for people. I just want to get my Pilates and teach my clients on what I KNOW will work.
My experience at the workshop where we used my classical reformer (Gretel), yes, I named her ;)) in a side by side situation, was quite eye opening.
Short Spinal Massage, Teaser and Back Stroke on the long box, the Hundred even….risers make things easier, in my estimation, they certainly make it different than without risers.
The foot bar, doesn’t lock on a classical reformer, and is at a different angle than ANY of the choices of a contemporary style. This makes where the angle your knees are bent quite different. The padding can be amazingly different, either cushiony and supportive or hard as the floor. The transitions cannot be done on a contemporary reformer, so there goes the flow, and the exercises between the exercises. If you’re a smaller person like me, the box is a big deal, the classical box is a better fit for my body and makes transitions and spring changes from on top of it manageable, the higher contemporary box makes it impossible. The men I train never complain about Gretel being too small. The people who come to my studio range in height from 5’2 to 6’4, Gretel fits them all well. Don’t even get me started on hand and foot loops, they do not measure out the same as adding the extension straps for frogs and leg circles and long spine, etc or just using the leather loop at the handle for short spine, really makes a short spine, C shaped. I invite you to try these exercises on both pieces and see for yourself.
The trap table, well my old one that I loved so much has found a new home, but I couldn’t get any spring configuration to feel like the classical ones where I take my lessons or go to workshops. I bought spring sets to replace them with, drilled eyebolt holes to match where springs should be by classical measurements, quit sliding the speed rail for adjustments, etc…BUT, because the trap table was bigger over all, higher and wider, putting classical springs on didn’t quite give me what I was looking for and some of the moves that I can execute on a classical piece were just impossible on the larger piece. Now that I have my classical trap table, it’s all falling into place. I still can’t do what is beyond my strength and ability, but I’ve been given back moves I have mastered….. and working on my pull-ups, front and back is easier, because I can reach the bars without feeling pulled apart and extra strain. Splits and all the overhead stuff are again in my scope.
The Wunda Chair is another issue, the higher, wider seats, split pedals with bars running through and 4 springs to deal with rather than 2, make it too hard to figure out. Joe’s designs are much more simple, easy to gauge by the body in front of you which eyebolt to use, or do you go to a more appropriate piece to do the work intended. Not every exercise can be done on every piece for every individual. That’s why Joe invented so many pieces, and used different springs on them.
There are no color coded springs, it’s either 1,2,3, or 4 on the reformer, high or low or light or heavy for arm or legs on the trap table. Same with the chair, 1 or 2 high, 1 or 2 med, 1 or 2 low, or combination of those, but not trying to configure 4 springs on a chair…WAAAAAY too much Pilates math for me ;))
What I will finish with is, there are a lot of exercises and things to learn from what he left, changing these measurements changes the exercises. The Goldilocks Theory prevails.