Welcome to Week 2 of Wunda Wednesdays! From May 1st through July 1st, I’ll be participating in a 60 Day Challenge with WundaBar Pilates. I’ll be taking 3-4 classes per week in exchange for documenting my progress weekly here on the blog.
This week I want to give an overview about Joseph Pilates and his contributions to the components of the mothership of WundaBar Pilates, the WundaFormer. The WundaFormer is the unique machine that brings together a modern combination of the best features of some of the most well known machines used in contemporary Pilates today.
I found it fascinating to discover that Joseph Pilates was a sickly child who studied many forms of self improvement and dedicated his entire life improving physical strength for himself and others. Pilates developed his “mat work” exercises in order to support the mental health and physical fitness for himself and others while at an internment camp during World War I.
After being transferred to a second internment camp, Pilates took springs from beds and anchored them to create spring resistance and “movement” to help rehabilitate hospitalized patients. In 1925, Pilates came to America and with his nurse-wife, Clara, he developed the Pilates method of exercise by translating the use of springs to develop flexibility, core strength, endurance and coordination from the internment camps into a number of specific machines. Some of the best known pieces of Pilates equipment used today are the Reformer, the Jump Board and the Wunda Chair which are all integral parts of the WundaFormer at WundaBar Pilates.
The traditional Reformer is a cushioned sliding platform (carriage) anchored on one end by an adjustable footbar and on the other end by a series of springs. Exercises can be done lying on the back or side, kneeling, sitting or standing on the movable carriage (there are shoulder blocks and a head rest for stability). The footbar can be used as a handlebar to allow the Reformer to be versatile in developing core strength, flexibility and stability.
The amount of body weight resistance needed to move the carriage is determined by the type and the amount of springs used. The springs are color coded to indicate the amount of resistance or support that will provided in a specific exercise.
A Jump Board can be attached to the end of a Reformer for plyometric activities or to provide superior lower body control.
Joseph Pilates developed the Wunda Chair originally to do double duty as furniture and exercise equipment. In the modern Pilates studio, this amazing rectangular shaped box promotes core strength with over 75 different exercises. With a cushioned top and a lever on the side, the Wunda Chair can be used lying on one’s side, sitting, standing and leaning and it tests stability and flexibility by the same type of color coded springs as you’d find in a Pilates Reformer.
Inspired by the philosophy, results and the machines of Joseph Pilates, the Founder and CEO of WundaBar, Amy Jordan, designed the WundaFormer to integrate efficiency to the group Reformer fitness class. By combining the capabilities of the above described pieces of traditional Pilates equipment into one machine, Amy knew that she could reinvent the way people obtained the benefits of core strength, flexibility and stability in a fast paced, group fitness experience.
Look closely at the WundaFormer and you’ll see a sleek Reformer, a Jump Board with its own ballet bar and a retractable Wunda Chair all together in one piece of equipment. It’s practical but it’s anything but simple. WundaBar is a fitness studio made for people like me who have (what I call “Fitness ADD”) and crave variety in their workouts.
I’m a New Yorker at heart so I definitely embrace the efficiency element at WundaBar. In every 50 minute class I’ve taken so far, we cover a lot of WundaFormer real estate and work my body in ways I’ve never worked it before. Despite the strenuous effort I put out during each class, I’m surprised the class time flies by so quickly. My stability and flexibility continue to be challenged byinnovative instructors and their permutations of the exercises available for the Reformer, Jump Board and Wunda Chair elements.
I’m still the one with the sweat rivulets dripping down my arms just 2 minutes into class because I’m working so hard to keep my form and stability. I can’t perform all of the reps asked for and there are moves where my spring levels need to be adjusted in a manner that might now match the average class goer but it supports my developing core, arms, legs and back. The muscles in my body are definitely feeling a difference. I am cultivating strength from places I never have before and even my physical therapist says she sees a difference during our weekly sessions!
It’s not easy but I made a promise that this was the year I did something different to heal my back injury. I’m thinking that Pilates may become a staple in my future fitness routine and I believe it may be the key to getting me back to running sometime soon.
*This post is part of my series Wunda Wednesdays which I have agreed to write in exchange for classes at WundaBar Pilates for the next 60 days. All opinions are my own.