How Reformer Pilates benefits your Squats

Squats are a great exercise and should be in everyone’s training schedule. Even though people refer to squats on ‘leg day’ they are actually beneficial for the whole body. I have looked at how Reformer Pilates will improve your squat and how I have benefitted from Pilates 


Believe it or not this one of the most important elements to your squat. Good foot and ankle health with give you more Strength, Power, Balance and Control. 

Footwork is a series of exercises done on the Reformer Pilates machine which train the muscles in your feet. These muscles play a significant role in providing support for the arches in your feet. Weak arches may cause your feet to rollinwards while you squat adding extra pressure to the inside of your knees (MCL ligaments).  

Flexibility and mobility of the ankle joint is also important to perform the squat. Poor flexibility in the ankle will mean your knees will travel over your ankle as you squat engaging more of your quads rather then the more powerful gluteus muscles. 

Training your feet and ankles should never be over looked, as it’s the foundation and base of all your movement.  

Pelvic Stability 

Every single move is generated from your core, your Pelvis forms part of your core. Spinal alignment, posture, shoulder mechanics, knee stability are all things that could go wrong with poor hip stability or biomechanics. It will also have a major impact on your squat. 

The muscles that play a major role in hip stabilisation include Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Maximus, Pirformis and the deep core muscles.These muscles are regularly worked during a Reformer sessionproviding a strong support for more load during a squat. 

I have an anterior tilt in the pelvis; biomechanically my hips naturally tilt forward when standing. This causes me to have tight hip flexors with excess pressure on my lumbar spine (lower back). This meant that when I squat I was very quad dominant and lacked any glute activity resulting in back and knee pain. Reformer Pilates has mobilised my lower back as well as stretch and strengthen the muscles in the hips allowing for a more effective and efficient squat. 

Pilates has highlighted the importance of your feet and your hips when it comes to squats and this has brought my training up to a new level.

Katie-Babs-reformer smaller size

There are six essential principles that make Pilates different to a regular workout and its important participants are fully aware of the principles in order to truly get the benefits associated with Pilates. As every move is performed at least one of the principles should be present however they do often work together.

1) Centre:

All movements originate from the centre of the body. The centre is located in the pelvis just below the naval (inside). From our centre we support our spine, major organs, strengthen the back, improve alignment and posture. Developing the centre will mean participants are less vulnerable to fatigue and lower back pain.

During a Pilates session it is important to maintain the engagement of the centre without holding your breath.

2) Control:

Control is a key element to Pilates. It is important that every move is carried out in a controlled manner as you are less likely to get injured and more likely to recruit the right muscles to carry out the movement. Control also gives you time to think about the move to ensure its been done to a high quality.

3) Concentration:

Its so important to concentrate and connect the Mind with the Body. Concentration will help keep your movement precise meaning you need to be fully aware not only of the moving body part but what the rest of the body is doing. There are many benefits to concentrating during Pilates and dealing with life’s stresses is one, as you must concentrate on something totally different other then your stresses. Concentration also helps with body awareness reducing the risk of injury.

4) Precision

In Pilates every move has a purpose and every cue and instruction is important to the success of the movement. Precision will also help to build on concentration which is vital especially while working on the smaller unused muscles.

5) Breathing

Breathing and the benefits are so underrated and is one of the main reasons why my clients come out feeling so much better.

Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. When breathing in Pilates you need to visualise the rig cage expanding three dimensionally with each breath. Conscious and specific breathing patterns assist movement by focusing the attention and direction of the body, oxygen is delivered to the muscles being used, it also assists in removing non-beneficial chemicals stored in the muscles and provides oxygen to the brain.

6) Flowing Movement:

When performing Pilates exercises its important they flow from one exercises to the next, they need to be smooth and in a evenly flowing manner. Participants need to avoid jerky quick movements and really get the movement to work along with breath.

Why Reformer Pilates is good for your body?

What  changes  have  you  noticed  in  your  body? 

Whole Body is more toned, stronger, flexible and I have abs now which I have never had before!

I have quite shapely legs and I always found it difficult to find an exercise to tone my inner thighs, but now since starting Pilates my inner thighs are much more toned due to targeting smaller muscles.

How  has  the re former  benefited  clients? 
Clients are feeling stretched and relaxed after sessions. Although the sessions are tough there is focus on the stretch and spinal mobility in every session.

Many clients with injuries see major improvements with 1:1 Pilates.

Would  you  recommend  a  client  to  attend  a  class  for  rehabilitation? 

It depends on the injury and the individual client.

I would always recommend to a 1:1 or a small class for a more personalised workout, close observation and guidance is key in Pilates.

Most injuries are caused by muscular imbalances and the way we move causes these imbalances. Pilates stresses pelvic and spinal alignment, which is critical in getting us to move the way we are supposed to in order to avoid further injury.

Would  the  reformer  benefit  any one  in  particular? 

I think the reformer is great for everyone regardless of age or fitness level What is wonderful about the reformer is that it is fantastic for therapy and overall fitness.

I have taught young people in their teenage years to assist with flexibility in gymnastics to elderly people in their 80’s, who needed low impact gentle exercises .

The exercises on the reformer can be adapted to meet individual needs through changing spring level and modifying each exercise.

The reformer is particularly great for older clients because it is a relatively light resistance as opposed to heavy weight gym equipment that can be too much for them, leading to injuries.

Why  do  you  think  the re former  is  becoming  more  popular? 

Reformer is a whole new way of exercising that not only supports you in movements but could be made harder with a change of a spring in the same movement, It is great for posture but also a good hard workout.

For me not only does my body feel and look great, but my mind and body connection has changed. I take what I learnt in Pilates into my daily life through movement and awareness.

If you could sum up 4 main benefits of the reformer, what would they be? 

  1. Great fun workout
  2. Builds core strength
  3. Improves posture and flexibility
  4. Work out those small but important muscles and ligaments

Book A Reformer Pilates Class with Claire Today!

5 HIIT Workouts You Can Do Anywhere

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become hugely popular as consumers look for convenience and fun ways to workout. Using bodyweight workouts make it easy to train anytime, anyplace and is therefore accessible to everyone.

Here are 4 HIIT based workouts you can try at anytime with no equipment. 

1. Jog and Sprint Intervals…10 Rounds of 30 seconds maximal sprints followed by 30 seconds jog.

Almost like Sprint training (Sprinters are some of the leanest athletes in the world.) this workout will increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. The 30 second sprint interval is guaranteed to create that “burn.”  To make this easier you can decrease the sprint time and increase the active recovery time.

2. Sit Up and Jump up 10 Rounds Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM)

This is a great one for core and explosive movement. Simply start your timer and perform 10 sit ups, stand up, and perform 10 vertical leaps with a reach as high as you can. The quicker you perform all Reps the longer your break. On the minute you start again with 10 sit ups. To make this one harder, add in a third exercise throughout the 10 rounds.

3. Sprint, Push and Squat 10 Rounds as Fast as you can.

A short sharp whole body burst! Start by performing a 15 second sprint followed by 10 pushups, followed by 10 squats. Rest for 30 seconds and then repeat (To make it harder reduce your recovery time). This hits all of our target areas, and again no equipment is necessary.

4. Death by Burpee (with a partner)

Sorry….We know no one likes burpees! This is a great workout with a partner and is so simple. You go head to head with 1 of you performing a full burpee then your partner does the same. Then 2 burpees, 3 burpees, and so forth all the way to 10. Once at 10 work your way back down so 9 Burpees, 8 burpees etc etc. That’s a whopping 110 burpees in the shortest time possible ensuring you both feel worked out.

Have Fun with these workouts, you can easily create your own combinations of exercises to keep you inspired and target different muscle groups. I would always recommend training with friends for extra motivation. See you soon!

HIIT Image

Over the last few years there has been a surge in boutique fitness and a huge uptake in “functional training.”  For me personally, functional training allows for a more fun workout through various ranges, angles and planes of motion! 

Here are 6 major benefits of functional training.

Move more efficiently and pain free

Our bodies are designed to move, yes most of us sit over a computer, hips in a flexed position with rolled over shoulders. Lack of movement is directly correlated to back pain and also other inactivity diseases such as diabetes. Functional training focuses on training movement patterns, balance and neuromuscular efficiency rather than isolating individual muscles so you are fit for day to day activity.

Sports Specific

Functional training provides essential training for sport specific conditioning. Enhancing the relationship between the nervous and musculoskeletal system, providing quick, reactive, and powerful movement patterns which then translates onto your sport of play means performance will be better. So, a golfer should practice hip rotation and shoulder stability to increase swing capacity.

Core Activation

Through functional training, key core muscles need to stabilize the hip and spine spine against external force, through different body positions. So, by replicating this demand  placed upon the core and spine in our everyday tasks you are able to be more efficient day to day!

Increased Metabolism

Functional training involves multi joint whole body movement which is fantastic for increasing metabolism By using full body exercises you can improve strength, endurance and  co-ordination thus a more effective workout!

Increased Muscle Mass

Functional training places load on the body’s levers through different angles and movements. This stimulates muscle growth and bone density. Take a rugby winger for example, most of his workouts will be spent bounding and changing direction….Not performing single joint movements such as a bicep curl!

Stabilisation and Injury Prevention

Functional training includes flexibility, mobility, core stability, balance and strength training, by using all these principles and challenging key motor skills you are less likely to get injured as your body is able to adapt more efficiently to day to day activities. So, carrying shopping bags or running upstairs should not be a problem.

When considering your gym programme the most important question you need to ask yourself is “What do I want to achieve?” “Is this programme functional for my goal?” 

Chris Sweeney Image

Most of us want results fast but life can be hectic with work and family etc so our time in the gym should be spent wisely.

Whilst there is no magic pill we can take to lose weight over night, there is a way you can speed up your metabolism and get results faster…… HIIT (High intensity interval training)
A form of interval training, performed in short anaerobic bursts with few rest periods means HIIT is considered to be the most effective cardio exercise that can be performed. HIIT workouts can be adapted to your specific level, whether you are a beginner or an athlete. Here is 5 ways HIIT training can significantly help with Fat Loss.

You burn fat for longer periods of time

Studies have concluded that concluded that subjects who followed an 8-week HIIT program, dropped 2% in body fat compared to the 0% that was dropped by subjects that underwent a continuous steady-state program. The same study also stated that the subject who followed the HIIT program burned almost 100 more calories per day during the 24-hours after each exercise. To conclude the perceived stress placed on your body during HIIT workouts causes a faster metabolism post workout.

You Save Time so work out more often

HIIT means you can perform shorter more effective bursts of training so you no longer have an excuse of not having enough time for exercise. This means that you do not have to spend hours running or walking on the treadmill, instead performing HIIT three times a week maximum for about 14-25 minutes is enough to give you results while drastically improving your general well-being.

Train anywhere anytime

HIIT can be performed anywhere so there is no excuse not to train. HIIT can be performed at home in the garden or at the gym. You do not need loads of fancy equipment, your body is enough work up real sweat.

Preserves Muscle Mass

If you want a lean body that has some definition, then doing continuous steady-state cardio is not going to give you the results you want. HIIT decreases the chances that your body will use your muscles as fuel, therefore preserves your lean mass, something that does not happen if you engage in regular cardio sessions. By conserving your muscles, you will maintain your strength while improving your endurance.

In fact, a Laval University study concluded that in addition to a decrease in body fat after a HIIT training program, the subjects’ muscle fibers had substantial higher markers for fat burning than those in the steady-state exercise group. So remember, being a cardio bunny will help you burn calories but you will always be disappointed at the results as a dip in the scale will mean a decrease in muscle mass not body fat.

Faster Results Than Traditional Cardio

The Stop start ethos during a HIIT workout and short sharp bursts of exercise means you are more likely to push yourself to the maximum thus using way more energy than someone who is running at a constant 10 kmph pace for 30 minutes, therefore you speed up your metabolism. HIIT stimulates the production of your human growth hormone by 450 percent during the 24 hours after you complete your workout. Hence, you burn more calories, shredding the fat much faster and more effectively than traditional cardio. For optimal results, incorporate weight training 3 times a week along with 2-3 HIIT work-outs.

To summarise, HIIT is a fast effective way to keep training varied and get results. Variation of exercises will keep your workouts interesting so you stay motivated and get the summer body you crave!


You’ve made the positive decision to take the next step on your fitness journey and work with a qualified professional who will coach you towards goals.

The guidance of a personal trainer (PT) will keep you more motivated and accountable when it comes working out furthermore, you are much more likely to reach your targets.

However, in an industry with little regulation there is a fine line between choosing the correct PT for you….and simply throwing your money away! A “Personal” PT should be just right for you and it’s simply not “a one size fits all situation.”

Here are 5 Things to consider when choosing the PT for you!


This is really important. What motivates you? Do you need an empathetic PT or a bootcamp style PT who will push you to your limits? It is extremely important you can build a good working relationship with your PT to ensure continued motivation and enjoyable sessions. You wouldn’t spend time with someone you dislike outside of the gym so you are even less likely to pay for a PT you dislike!!


All PT’s must hold at least a REPS level 3 qualification or equivalent. Another factor to consider may be Fitness related degree and other relevant courses which will add value to your sessions.


I personally believe PTs who have previous sporting experience and have been coached from grassroots have an advantage over “new kids on the block.” Also it is important to know how long a prospective PT has been in the industry so you ensure you are paying for quality and in depth knowledge.


If you’re looking for something specific for example training for the marathon — you’ll want to work with a PT who specialises in running and not bodybuilding. Expertise in a desired area will allow for a more specialised programme and better end results.

Location and Time

Are you willing to drive 20 minutes across London, or do you need something within walking distance of work so you can train at lunch? Do you prefer to train in the evenings? Whatever your preference and In order to maintain a sustainable programme it’s important you find a PT or studio which is convenient to your diary!

SW1 Fitness is perfectly based in between Pimlico and Westminster. All our PT’s have a huge passion for the industry and a combined over 20 years industry experience. If you have a new goal, get in touch today!  

Why London Love Reformer Pilates

Growing up in London you soon realise it’s a fast paced city, people are rushing around, time is low and we are constantly looking for time efficient ways to do things with exercise being no exception. Here are free reasons why London has fallen in love with reformer pilates:

1. Celebrities Do Reformer Pilates

Michelle Obama, Madonna, Hugh Grant are just a few of the celebrities that are rumoured to love Pilates. Benefits including a longer, leaner and more toned version of yourself delivering a body that looks great for the camera. There’s no surprise that more and more Pilates studios are popping up all over London

2. Fast Results

Anyone who has participated in Reformer Pilates will tell you how much more effective it is in comparison to Mat Pilates. The carriage on the Reformer can dramatically change and intensify stretches and exercise. This makes it great for people who want to see results FAST.

3. Injury Rehab

Busy London means there is less and less time to look after ourselves. Often people are sitting at desks for many hours a day or training muscles that only look good for Instagram or Facebook. This often means neglecting muscles that are actually important for day to day function and posture. Reformer Pilates is an excellent form of exercise for Londoners as it’s great for targeting the important neglected muscles but also feels like a workout so you get the sense of achievement after a class.

Book Your First Class Today!

Squat Reformer Sw1 Fitness


Squats are great for working all the large muscles in the lower body. However squating on the reformer adds a whole new dimension. By using heavy springs and keeping the carriage apart your outter hip and glutes need to engage, promoting glute activation which plays a key role in knee and lower back health. A light spring the squat, the aim changes to stability. Inner thighs need to work and hips need to remain stable to perform the movement.

Side Planks

Side planks are great for shoulder stability and obliques. On the Reformer a havier spring can be used to work on shoulder stability. A lighter spring is used to challenge more obliques. As the carriage moves you can add new dimensions to exercises such as side pikes or moving the carriage forwards and back.


Lunges are a functional movement and great for sport performance, however due to the weight placed on the front many people have poor form resulting to a higher risk of injury. A reformer can assist a lunge with a heavy spring as the resistance on the carriage will support the joints.A light spring on yhe carriage will mean participants need to use more balance and stability to perform the movement.

Press Ups

Press ups are great for upper body and core, it works many muscles together making it a functional movement. Reformer will add the stability aspect to the press up. You shoulders and core need to work to keep the carriage in still. You can also add different core exercises such “pikes”  to increase core engagement.


Relieving stress is one of the many benefits of Pilates. I notice this particularly immediately after a class as clients feel stretched, relaxed but at the same time a good workout. This is no coincidence, Joseph Pilates was very smart with the principles of Pilates and relieving stress is a key component in injury rehab and prevention.

How Pilates reduces stress


At the start of each class I get my clients to focus on breathing and what happens to the body when you breathe. Learning to breathe deep and controlled creates a relaxing sensation in the body. This reduces your heart rate and decreases blood pressure. There is also an increase supply of oxygen to the brain releasing “feel good” hormones which help overcome stress and anxiety.

Clear your mind, take time out:

So much is going on in our lives today, family, work , financial worries, the list goes on. Our attention is pulled all over the place making it hard to focus and maintain a sense of peace and calm.

In my classes I slow the movements down, they can still be dynamic however it is slow and controlled. I get my clients to think about the movement, the muscles they can feel all while controlling their breath at the same time.


Pilates is different to any other exercise, its not just about pushing through, feeling the burn, getting as many reps as you can. You need to focus on each movement with intention and awareness.  This is a skill to learn and helps you to stay focused, present and manage seemingly stressful situations.

 Adding Pilates to your exercise routine will take your physical wellbeing to another level.