[As featured in Sheer Luxe]
Still sliding up and down on a reformer bed? Quelle horreur! These days it’s all about the Pilates chair, the latest buzzword in fitness that’s already taken the US by storm and one of the hottest workouts around.
Designed to stretch and strengthen every muscle group, the Mve chair consists of a reformer seat and footbar with attached springs for resistance. Results are stronger abs (tick), more sculpted arms (tick), greater flexibility (tick), improved posture (tick) and longer, leaner muscles (tick, tick, TICK!).
Don’t be fooled by its size, the Mve reformer chair is a great form of cross-training for everyone – from professional athletes to supermodels to post-natal women – with those in the know incorporating free weights, dyna bands and kettlebells for a full-body blast session that really delivers the goods.
Claire Finlay, owner of Transition Zone, is one of those people. Her studio (the only place in London to offer classes) even adds Power Plate into the mix for a megawatt workout. “My clients have all tried body barre and the regular Pilates reformer bed but they want something more challenging,” she says. “They’re not content lying around stretching, they want to walk out feeling the afterburn kicking in. With my classes, that’s exactly what they get.”
The Mve chair is an adaptation of Joseph Pilates’ Wunda chair, with an extra twist, meaning it works on many levels. Strength training exercises are performed in a number of positions, from powerhouse moves such as pull ups and handstand cobra stretches (not for the faint-hearted) to isolated micro-movements performed against the spring-loaded footbar. It’s much harder than it looks, as not only are you engaging all your big muscle groups at once, you’re focusing mentally to remain balanced while keeping your technique on fleek. We caught up with Claire to get the lowdown.
Where will I feel it most?
The chair challenges both your centre of gravity and your base of support. By throwing you off centre (it’s tricky balancing on the tiny footbar) the unstable environment fires up and continually challenges your core muscles. This multi-faceted workout doesn’t end with killer abs though; expect a high intensity, heart-pounding session that targets all major muscle groups, boosts endurance and has you cursing staircases for days after. We all know core strength allows your whole body to get stronger, but it also helps with stability, control, balance and coordination, making this a genuine 360-degree fitness experience.
I’m new to Pilates, does that matter?
We have a strict five-person-max policy in our class, which allows for plenty of one-to-one guidance and individual adjustments. Having said that, if you’re new to fitness or just had a baby, we recommend a couple of fusion sessions –alongside TRX or the Power Plate – just to get you used to this style of training. Other than that, everyone is welcome. Bring your the men in your life too; we’ll have them begging for mercy.
I’m pretty fit already. Will this challenge me?
Trust me, this is no regular Pilates class, so even if you’re a complete aficionado, you won’t have experienced anything like this before. In the right hands this is a killer full-body workout that challenges the body…and the mind. That’s the thing that always throws people. First timers are always blown away by the amount of concentration required; you really have to focus on your core, your balance, your flexibility, your upper body… the lot!
Not surprisingly, Women’s Health Magazine cited the Pilates Chair as the “coolest thing to happen in Pilates since the reformer bed”. We’ll see you there…