Reap the strength-solidifying benefits of this reformer Pilates home workout with these mat-based exercises from Pilates instructor Jessica May.

Reformer Pilates has boomed in popularity in recent years. The workout uses a reformer bed with adjustable resistance to support and intensify Pilates moves. While the machine may seem like the holy grail of Pilates equipment, in reality, the essence of each exercise lies in the principles and movements themselves. So, by modifying exercises and swapping a machine for gliding discs and resistance bands, you can benefit from some of the most effective dynamic reformer Pilates moves on your mat – and for a fraction of the cost – in the comfort of your own home, as with this reformer Pilates home workout.

Jessica May is an experienced Pilates instructor and founder of Jessica May Wellness.

How to do this reformer Pilates home workout

Complete this workout on a flat, hard surface, such as tiles or wooden floors. You will need an exercise mat, a resistance band and two gliding discs. Simply work your way through each exercise for the specified number of reps and sets. Enjoy!

1. Feet in straps

Benefits: This move improves core strength and mobility, specifically through stretching the hamstrings. Reps: 8 Sets: 2

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended straight up toward the ceiling and feet hooked into the resistance band. Hold each side of the band in your hands, keeping elbows on the floor at either side of your body.
  • Aim to complete this movement in an imprinted position, with the whole spine flat on the mat (or, if more advanced, a neutral spine). Avoid hyperextending or lifting the spine throughout.
  • With legs together and long, point the toes and press the feet into the band to lower them towards the ground, only going as far as you can while maintaining an imprinted or neutral spine. Then, lengthen them back up towards the ceiling while flexing the feet.

Variation: You can keep the head on the mat (A) or lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat as the legs lengthen towards the floor (B).

2. Roll down with biceps curl

Benefits: Combining core engagement, spinal mobility and upper-body strength training, this move is great for improving posture and core strength. The aim is to create a c-curve with the body through flexion of the spine. Reps: 8 Sets: 3

  • Sit up straight, with legs extended and the band hooked over your feet. Hold each end of the band in your hands at either side of your body (A).
  • Biceps curl the arms as you draw the ribcage towards pelvis, leaning backwards and resisting into the arms. Create a c-curve with the body to activate the core, using your exhale to deepen the engagement (B). Inhale to lengthen back up to a sitting position.

3. Scooter lunge

Benefits: This classic lunge is made more dynamic by scooting the leg back, which challenges the balance, co-ordination and glute engagement. Reps: 8-10 each side

  • Start in a long-line lunge position with the back leg extended and foot on the gliding disc. Bend the front knee, ensuring your knee and ankle are in a straight line (A).
  • Inhale to bend the back knee in towards yourself, pulling the gliding disc in while maintaining a neutral spine (B). Then, exhale to push the back leg straight and activate the glute of the moving leg.

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4. Side scooter lunge

Benefits: This dynamic exercise adds another dimension to your lower-body workout, engaging your glutes, quads and hamstrings while improving balance and stability. Reps: 8-10 each side

  • Begin in a parallel squat position with one foot on a gliding disc and the other foot on the ground. Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
  • Slide the foot on the gliding disc out to the side, coming into a side lunge position (A). Keep your weight balanced and the knee on your supporting leg tracking over your toes.
  • Then, push off with your gliding foot, using the outer thigh and glute muscles to bring your leg back to the starting squat position (B).

5. Plank to pike

Benefits: This exercise strengthens the core, upper body and hip flexors, while improving stability, increasing core strength and enhancing overall body co-ordination. Reps: 8 Sets: 3

  • Start in a plank position with both feet on the gliding discs (A).
  • Exhale to pike the hips up towards the ceiling, keeping on the tips of your toes and gliding the discs across the floor towards your body while keeping the legs straight. Curl the upper body over wrists and tuck the head and chin under (B).
  • Inhale to hold, then exhale to glide the discs away from the body and back into a plank position.

6. Plank to knee-lift hover

Benefits: This exercise specifically focuses on engaging the deep abdominal muscles while maintaining a neutral spine, which is essential for developing core strength and enhancing pelvic stability. This movement also contributes to building shoulder stability as you hold the position. Reps: 8 Sets: 3

  • Start in plank with both feet on the gliding discs (A).
  • Exhale to pull the gliding discs in, bending the knees under the hips and hovering the knees above the mat. Aim to maintain a neutral spine throughout (B).
  • Inhale to hold, then exhale to glide the discs away from the body and back into a plank position.