Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercises

Core-chiseling,muscle-elongating, body-shaping…. There’s nothing quite like a good Pilates routine. And our team is into it for 2016!

Andrea Speir’s new Santa Monica studio, Speir Pilates, is the ultimate studio as far as we’re concerned. We recently visited Andrea for her reformer-based Pilates class and experienced a killer workout with results we could feel from day one.

A few members of our team recently purchased reformers (see our pick!) to use at home. To make sure we know what we’re doing with all of our flying limbs, we plan on hitting up Andrea’s gorgeous new studio periodically to stay in good form. Below Andrea is walking us through the nine essential reformer moves she uses to give her clients the chiseled, elongated Pilates bods the reformer is known to create – in just 30 minutes a session! Here’s Andrea on the reformer and how to use it…

The reformer is a bed-like piece of equipment that will help you find your proper posture and safely, efficiently and effectively change the health and look of your body. The Pilates reformer has been used by physical therapist for years for its amazing therapeutic benefits and also by Hollywood’s elite because of its incredibly chiseling results.

The method of Joseph Pilates is to begin with your body in this basic horizontal position, then build and tone it all the way to a standing position so you can walk out of your session proud, tall and strong.

Here are my nine moves recommended for the Chalkboard girls as they embrace those at-home reformers! This combination will provide a balanced and effective workout in 30 minutes or less.

A note on reformers: Different reformers have different spring variations. The spring references below refer to the set-up for the most common brand, Balanced Body. If you don’t have a Balanced Body model, follow the chart listed here so you can match your reformer to this routine accordingly: Blue Spring – your lightest spring  Red Spring – medium  Green – heaviest

Flat On Your Back: 3 Moves
10 sets of each

Woman in a Pilates studio lying down on a Pilates reformerFootwork

Set-up: Lie flat on your back, head resting on the headrest, shoulders against the shoulder blocks. Arms long by your sides and feet up on the footbar.


  1. Place toes only on the foot bar about a fist-distance apart with heels together.
  2. Extend your legs out, sending the carriage and your body away.
  3. Bend knees, bring your body and the carriage all the way back.
  4. Breath is natural.

Tips: Springs: 3 Red and 1 Blue | Keep knees only as wide as shoulders when knees are bent in. Think about growing taller as you lengthen the carriage away. Keep abdominals deeply engaged by scooping them in and up along your spine.

Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercisesThe Hundred

Set-up: Bend your knees in toward your chest. Curl head and chest up and extend arms out long by sides and legs to a 45 degree angle.


  1. Begin pumping arms up and down (4-6 inches in range of motion).
  2. Take a deep inhale for 5 counts.
  3. Exhale for 5 counts.
  4. Repeat for 10 full sets of these breaths.

Tips: Springs: 2 Red and 1 Blue Gaze at your abdominals to ensure your neck is in the proper position. Focus on deeply engaging the abdominals.

Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercisesSide Leg Strap- Clam

Set-up: Lie on side in the fetal position. Take the loop off the shoulder block peg in front of you and place it up around your knee (away from knee joint). Arms wrap around to hold onto shoulder block in front of body. Super glue heels together.


  1. Lift your top knee up into a clam position.
  2. Lower top knee back down.
  3. Repeat 10x.

Tips: Springs: 1 Green | Never let those heels come unglued – you are targeting the gluteus medius, or side of the glute – this will help strengthen the support system for your lower back as well as tighten your hips and lift your booty. Don’t let those hips rock around and hula dance – keep them still and stacked!

Kneeling: 3 Moves
10 sets of each, unless noted otherwise

Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercisesKneeling Arm Extensions

 Set-up: Kneel on top of the carriage, feet hip distance apart with toes hooked over back edge, facing away from the footbar. Lower headrest and place one hand on top for balance. Take the handle of the peg with the other hand and let arm reach long by side of frame.


Move 1:

  1. Deepen your abdominals and make sure shoulders are squared off.
  2. Slowly reach your arm back toward your hip.
  3. Slowly lower back down toward side.

Move 2:

  1. Flip your grip so your fist and fingers face away from your body. Bend your elbow in tight by side.
  2. Extend your arm back toward hip and bend arm back in.
  3. This is a tricep kick-back. Your elbow stays bent in and glued to your side throughout – the action is only from the elbow to the fist.

Tips: Springs: 1 Blue | Focus on squaring off the shoulders and watch that you aren’t leaning away from the side that is working – don’t let that stable arm take a bunch of unbalanced weight!

Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercisesSmall Arm Circles

 Set-up: Kneel on reformer with feet against shoulder blocks, hands hold onto handles.


  1. Make small circles with arms, keeping arms in peripheral vision at all times. Repeat 6x.
  2. Change direction of the circles.
  3. Repeat 6x.

Tip: Springs: 1 Blue | Keep tailbone curled under and abdominals engaged. This will help maintain balance.

Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercisesKneeling Arm Circles

Set-up: Kneel with feet against shoulder blocks, holding onto handles.


  1. Circle arms up toward the ceiling and back down to hips.
  2. Repeat 10x.
  3. Reverse the direction.
  4. Repeat 10x.

Tips: Springs: 1 Blue | Keep hips slightly forward and tailbone curled under. Engage the abdominals deeply to keep balance.

Seated Position: 2 Moves
Moves can be done with or without Pilates box

Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercisesShort Box- Flat Back

Set-up: Place the box over the shoulder blocks and before the pegs in the opposite direction as it was placed for pulling straps and hamstring curls. Sit on top of box with straight legs and feet hooked under the strap (this strap rests under the springs).


  1. Reach arms up to the ceiling, lifting spine tall and deepening abdominals.
  2. Hinge your body back just a few inches.
  3. Hinge body back forward.
  4. Repeat 8x.

Tip: Springs: Any variation of springs to weight the carriage down. | Imagine you are a piece of steel – keep your body straight and strong and lead from the lower abdominals.

Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercisesSide Sit-Ups

 Set-up: Keep the box the same as the short box set-up. Take one foot out and turn body in that direction. Hook that foot under your straight, secured leg. Hands behind head.


  1. Lower body toward the well.
  2. Lift body back up.
  3. Repeat 10x.

Tips: Springs: Any variation of springs to secure box (same as short box). | Keep both hips stacked one on top of the other. Scoop abs in almost to the point of rounding. This will help keep you out of your low back and in your core.

Standing Position: 1 Move

Woman in workout clothes performing Pilates reformer exercisesElephant

Set-up: Stand on the carriage with heels halfway up against shoulder blocks, hands on the footbar.


  1. Press the carriage out a few inches.
  2. Draw the carriage back in.

Variation: Lift one leg straight up toward ceiling, activating glute. Repeat movement- send carriage out and in.

Tips: Springs: 2 Red | Think about scooping the abdominals in like there is a fire under your abdominals. The action happens from your abs.

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