A no-reformer Pilates foam roller workout

Pilates reformers challenge your core, shoulders and other muscle groups to work you either moving the cart or holding it still. Unfortunately, you usually have to commute to a class, or spend thousands of dollars to get one for your home.

But if you’re looking for more reformer-like exercise in your life without that hassle, have we got the hack for you? You can simulate the same resistance and engagement you get from a reformer with an inexpensive item you probably have around the house: a foam roller.

Although it’s commonly used for self-massage and recovery, the foam roller is actually a versatile tool to work with. You can use it to introduce some rotational movement into an exercise, such as turning a stationary plank into a moving one that works your shoulders and core. Or you can burn your muscles to keep them from rolling, like you would a bridge pose with your feet on a foam roller.

East River Pilates instructor Brian Spencer makes full use of this technique good + goodThe last of Good moves video, a 23-minute at-home “reformer” workout—it’s actually a Pilates foam roller workout. After anchoring the beginning of the warm-up by connecting with your Pilates breath, you’ll do a series of moves to both strengthen and mobilize your muscles.

“With this foam roller today, we’re going to be really challenging stability and range of motion,” Spencer said.

With base poses including bridges, hands and knees, lunges and planks, you can expect to get a full-body workout in just 20 minutes. It’s also low-impact, with no jumping or other moves that are hard on your joints—just like reformer exercises.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy, though. “It’s going to be a little spicy,” warns Spencer, since some of the exercises—hello, high one-legged bridge marches on a moving object!—are difficult. But you’ll get some delicious spine-tingling and dynamic action. A well-rounded workout, really.

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