Class #5216

Upper Body Reformer

30 min - Class


You will challenge your upper body with this innovative Reformer workout by Mariska Breland. She starts right away with a standing series to challenge your coordination while strengthening your arms. Throughout the class, she gives you options to make each movement work for your body and the Reformer you're using.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hey, I'm Mariska, and today we're going to do, a reformer class focusing on Pilates-ish exercises, for the upper body, which does mean there's going to be, a lower body class as well. So I have it started with just one blue spring. You could use a red, if you feel like your arm shoulders are really strong. I feel like I'm strong enough to do this on a blue. So you're gonna reach back and grab your straps and basically like you're putting on, like a robe or something behind you.

And then just walk forward some, so that you can bring a leg up to the reformer. So this reformer is, it's one of the taller ones. It's not like the super tall ones, but it's taller than normal. So I can't get my leg to be parallel, 'cause my hip would be hiked. So what I'm doing is I'm having my right leg, in a turnout position.

If you have the same situation, you can do that or if you're shorter, but I would actually think this would be, a little bit nicer to be parallel. We're gonna think about your leg moving, because your arms are moving it, but your arms are going to move the carriage. So little bend in your left leg, we're gonna start with a bicep curl and then turn it into a press and then come back and release. Curl, press and if your front leg is moving back, someone you push that is totally fine and you can have your arms go up at an angle or you could have them go kind of more like overhead. Whatever feels good to you.

Bend, push and come back. Bend, push and come back. Bend, push, open out and in, bend and come back. Bend, push, open out and in, bend and release. So it's a bicep curl, a chest press, a chest fly, a chest press and a bicep curl, do one more.

Reach, open, close, bend and extend. So we'll hang the straps up, for the time it takes us to walk around, to the other side of the reformer. And then same deal, you're gonna grab the straps behind you, so you have the left on left side and the right on the right side. Come forward a little bit. You'll bring your leg up in a turnout, if you have a high reformer, in parallel if you have a normal height reformer.

And we'll start with a bicep curl, push, bend and reach. Bicep curl, push, bend and reach. Curl, push, bend and reach. Curl, press bend and reach, a couple more like this. And then we'll add the chest fly, curl, push, bend and reach.

Last one like this, curl, push, bend and reach. Then adding on curl, push. Let your arms open. I'm a little close to the wall, so I'm gonna bend my right arm there. Bend and reach.

But if you are not close to a wall, then you do a full chest fly without your arms bent. We'll do a couple more. Open, close, bend and reach. And last one. And bend and reach.

Go ahead and hang up the straps. You probably do wanna be, on a reasonably light spring for this next one, just 'cause we're gonna be sitting, really far forward on the reformer. So I'm gonna have my feet on the frame and I wanna have basically my toes on the frame and then the ball of my foot, kind of dropped down below them just so I don't slip. So I'm gonna start by reaching my arms forward. Press out, round a little bit as I come in, press out, round a little bit as I come in and press out, round to come in a little bit and press out.

We'll do, I dunno, four more. One, two, three and four. I'm gonna scoot forward just a teeny bit, just in case I was slipping, I don't feel like I was slipping that much, but just in case I was slipping a little bit. So now round back some. Rotate open to the left and back to center sit up, round back a little bit, rotate to the right and center and lift.

Round, twist left, center and lift, round, twist right, center and lift. Now round, twist, reach for the shoulder rest. So your arm might be straight and it might not not be all the way straight, it depends on how long your arms are. Now you're gonna push and extend your arm and use that to twist more and then come back to center. Twist around and come back to center.

Twist and come back to center. We'll do six of these. So there's three more, two and three. Really get a good twist on that last one. Come back to center, reach your left arm forward, reach your right arm around to the shoulder rest, there it is.

And then twist around. Big twist, come back to center. Big twist and center. Four more. Twist around and center.

Twist around and center. Twist, I lost count. I'm only counting to six and I lose count, that's because I'm a Pilates teacher and I can't count. Go ahead and just bring your hands onto the foot bar and you're just gonna come hang back. So I'm actually letting my shoulders elevate.

I'm just kind of getting a big stretch in my upper back, because it feels nice. And then come back, we'll do one more of those. Reach and then come back all the way in. So we're actually gonna make this next thing pretty heavy. So I have the blue spring on, but I'm actually going to add a red spring as well.

So we're gonna be on a red and a blue and we're gonna scoot back enough, that we can easily reach the straps. And I'm gonna put the straps on like they're a backpack. So sliding the straps up to my shoulders. And what I like about this is, it sort of sets your shoulders back some, but we can work on protracting. So pushing your arms forward and then retracting with the assistance of the springs.

Push forward and release. Push forward and release. Push forward, now elevate your shoulders. So shrug up and down, retract, shrug up and down. Push forward, shrug and down, pull back, shrug and down.

And we'll do that as a circle. So push forward, shrug up and down. We'll do three this way. And then three circling the other way. Go ahead and just release your hands down, for a brief moment.

Now from there, take your arms, push them forward, reach them back so they're not like reaching back, they're not really retracted, they're not protracted, they're just sort of in a neutral position. We're gonna take your right hand onto your right knee. Lift your left arm up and down four times. Two, three and four. Switch.

Lift up, one, two, three and four. And you might find that you actually have less range, than you're used to, because we have changed one of the dynamics, of like basically locking your shoulders in place. So I'm gonna keep the strap, that's my right-handed strap. And I'm gonna undo the red spring. So I'm just gonna be on one blue spring.

You can be on one red spring, if one red spring works for you. Take your right arm slightly out to the right and then you'll curl it, so it's sort of a chest fly curl across if that's the thing. And then push into a twist and then come back and extend your arms. I want this to be a little bit heavier. I have the double loops on here, so I'm gonna go to the smaller one.

So it's a pull across and push. Come back and reach. Pull across, push, come back and reach. Pull, push, come back and reach, three more. One, two and last one this side and three.

Hang up the strap, grab the other strap, so it's not like right next to you, it's gonna be slightly behind you. Bicep curl, pull, press across and come back. So we've got five more. Curl, push and reach. Curl, push and reach.

Curl, push and reach. Curl, push and reach. And curl, push and reach. I'm gonna go ahead and hang that up. I'm gonna scoot forward.

Just because I love this exercise so much and it's just like you can't do it enough. I'm gonna stay on a blue though, so we're just gonna do a little super light down stretch. So hips go forward, shoulder blades back, we're gonna press out and then pull to come back in. So if it was heavier, I would probably go out further, because it would feel more supportive. It feels not super supportive on just a blue spring.

So I'm not going out super far. Press back and pull to come back in. Go ahead and spin yourself around to the other direction. And we're gonna sit down on our heels. So I have this, the springs or the straps and I'm gonna hold on with my hands.

So it's one arm is gonna do a row. The other arm then will have no tension in the strap. So row back. So we need to get some tension in the other strap. So what we're gonna do is lift that arm up, sort of at an angle.

So we have this strap that's in my hand, the other strap that's out at an angle. Now stand up, extend your arms a little bit. The goal is to not really move the carriage. I totally moved the carriage there, but that wasn't my goal. So we'll try to do better on the other side.

So pull, lift your other arm up, keep the tension, lift yourself up, keep the tension as you lower back down, it's the lowering down part that's really hard. And then go ahead and reach your arms forward. So pull the other arm, catches tension, lift up, lower and extend. Pull, catch the tension, lift up, lower and extend. Pull, catch the tension, lift, lower and extend.

Pull, lift, lower and extend. We'll do one more each side. Lift, lower and extend. Last one, pull, lift, lower and extend. I'm gonna choke up on the straps a little bit, 'cause it's pretty light.

It's on a only on a blue spring. Pull your arms back, send your chest through your arms and really kind of lean yourself forward. Bend your elbows and push eight times. Two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight. Let your arms reach forward as you come more upright.

And then you'll let your arms go a little bit wider, basically so we're just not running into anything. So instead of touching the straps to my thighs, I'm reaching out a little bit, now pull forward as you lean forward or pull back as you lean forward and then come back. Pull back and lift up, it's like a teeter totter. Reaching forward and back. Reaching forward and back, twice more.

Reaching forward and return. And last one, reaching forward and return. You can go ahead and hang the straps up, shake it off. And then from there I'm gonna lower the foot bar, down a little bit and I'm gonna take it to a yellow spring. You could do this on no springs.

I'm going to be nice to myself and do it on a yellow spring. But I want the foot bar lower down, probably two, two lower than it normally is. So come to Quadruped, basically Quadruped position. We're gonna push the carriage out a little bit and bring your hands to this gray exfoliating pad. That's the base of the reformer or at least the base of a balanced body reformer.

Now the goal is to not move the carriage. We're gonna walk your hands up to the foot bar. So right up, left up, right down, left down. Left up, right up, left down, right down. Right and left, right and left.

Left and right, left and right. I am totally aware it's moving some, but I'm trying to minimize how much it's moving. And there's lots of muscles that are firing here, to make this all if not possible, then somewhat possible. And a lot of it are muscles that stabilize you and you might feel like your legs are doing stuff too, because they are. So your hands are on the plate.

So try to keep your hands on the plate. What, so right hand was on the plate, left hand goes to the outside of the frame, right hand goes to the outside of the frame, left hand goes to the plate, right hand goes to the plate. Right hand to the frame, left to the frame, right to the plate, left to the plate. Left and right, left and right. Right and left, right and left.

I'm smiling, I smile. I basically have a workout bitch face, unless something is hard. And then which case I laugh. And so this is actually really hard and I want to like burst out laughing, at the fact that I could really at any moment fall. But you should not.

Last one. And then go ahead and just come in and kind of release that for a second. I'm gonna put on a, I'm gonna put on a blue spring, just because the spring doesn't matter at this point, but it will matter after this point. So I'm gonna go ahead and put the box on and we're gonna put it on long way. And like I said, the spring weight doesn't matter, 'cause I'm not really trying to move the carriage yet.

You could have it on a red certainly, if you wanna make it a little bit heavier, for what we're going to do later. I think a blue would be happy for me. So throw a thigh over, throw a thigh over and then you're gonna scoot more forward than you would normally be. Like almost like your hips are at the edge. And then arms are a little bit forward.

And we're gonna drop down to your forearms. Just make sure that's a good position and lift backup. So forearm drop and lift. Forearm drop and lift. We're gonna add your legs, just doing a little lift up and lower.

Legs get a little lift and lower. And you can do this with your legs together. If that feels okay on your back. And if it doesn't feel okay on your back, then go ahead and just separate your legs a little bit. Now I'm gonna drop down to my right arm and lift my left leg up and look over my left shoulder and come back.

Left arm, right leg and back. Right arm, left leg. Left and right, right and left. Left and right, right and left. Couple more.

Left and right, right and left. Last one like this. Left and right, right and left. From here, scoot back. I like maybe a little bit more.

Go ahead and lower down, lift your legs up a little bit and reach, scoot yourself back a little bit more. Lower down a little bit and lift. Press back with your arms, basically just sliding your torso and return. Lower down and return. So you wanna be or you can kind of be balanced on the box.

Reach your arms forward, go for a swim. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. And inhale and exhale. Lower yourself down, slide yourself off.

And then I'm gonna take the box and turn it, so that it's short box. And then I wanna sit with my right hip on the box. And I'm gonna grab the closer to the camera side. So same, so left hand is in the strap that is closer to me. Come down to a straight arm.

So you're basically coming into a side position. So here I would like my arm, to be less long than it is but it is what it is. So I'm gonna just be here. And I'm just gonna start with a bicep curl and release. Bicep curl and release.

And if you want it to be heavier and you have the double loops, you can always go to smaller of the two loops. And basically just try not to fall off the machine, I think is a very good goal to have in any reformer workout. Now take your arm and it's just gonna be straight and you're gonna reach it forward and take your top leg back a little bit. Reach and reach. You can turn and look down at the springs.

Couple more. And last one. And then just carefully bend your knees, make your way up, hang that strap up, spin around to the other side. So grab the strap. First come onto your hip, come to your arm, extend your legs, relatively straight ish.

I'm keeping my elbow kind of tucked into my side, as a place to stabilize it as I do my little bicep curls. I think we did roughly eight of them. This is four, five, six, seven and eight. Then we do a straight arm forward, top leg goes back some, you can turn and look at the spring. Do three more.

One, two and three. Carefully making your way up. Little internal shout out for not falling off the reformer, if you did not in fact fall off the reformer. Go ahead and we'll take the box and when we're gonna bring it back to long box position. And then lift your foot bar up, to its normal operating position for you and your reformer.

And then we come to kneeling on the box. I'm still on a blue spring. Blue is going to be my happy weight here. I'm just gonna press into a plank, push back like a plank on my knees and then carry that forward. Press back and forward.

Press back and forward, couple more. Press back and forward. Press back, forward, till your chest is basically under the bar. Bend and push. Five times, two, three, four and five.

Go ahead and let the box come in. And then I'm just gonna come to lying down on the box, basically just sliding my legs back. And then I'm going to change the spring weight to one red. Take the blue spring off. And then you want your elbows, facing straight down to the floor.

So right now I'm a little congested, both in the sinusy kind of way and in the, I'm close to the foot bar kind of way. So I wanna push away and then bend. But make sure your elbows are dropping down. So it's gonna be a little more tricep focused, by doing it this way. Press down and come in.

Press down or press out and in, push out and in, push out and in. Take one arm, just hold onto the box. We'll do four presses with just a single arm. Two, three and four. Switch arms.

Push one, two, three and four. Go ahead and come and take the spring off. So now we have no springs. Don't go crazy, we have no springs. So from here you're gonna push yourself out, remembering that we don't have any springs.

Shoulder blades, roll down your back, pull to lift yourself in, bend your elbows, don't move the carriage. And then push out, not as far. Press down, lift yourself in, bend your elbow, push out, not as far. Press down, pull in, bend your elbows, push out again not as far. Press up, pull in, bend to lower down, now we're not gonna press out at all, we're just gonna push your arm straight to lift and lower three times, two and last one and three.

Probably gonna want a spring. I definitely want a spring. So I'm gonna go ahead and grab my left foot with my left hand. I'm gonna push out, lift up, maybe I don't come in all the way and then reach it back. Pull in and back and pull in and back.

Left leg extends, right leg bends. I'm gonna grab hold of it, pull in and down. Pull in and down and pull in and down. Reach your legs both out straight, go ahead and come in. And then just hold onto the outside of the box.

Press yourself up to sit straddling the box. And then you can bring your feet down, just to the outside edge. And then we're literally just going to hang forward, to give our backs a little bit of a release, from all that back extension. So you can hold onto the box, pull yourself down, hold onto whatever doesn't move. And so if you feel maybe feel a little inner thigh stretch, I really feel this as kind of a low back stretch, which I am enjoying after all that extension.

Just take a little twist towards the left and then take a little twist towards the right. And then if you have anything else, that needs to be stretched, for you to feel like you had a satisfying experience, in this class go ahead and stretch that now.


1 person likes this.
Thank you!
Michele M
1 person likes this.
Very creative practice! I can feel my upper body in a very good way now, so just what I needed.  Thank you Mariska!:D
1 person likes this.
Loved that it was creative, practical and challenging with a nice flow! Thank you!
1 person likes this.
Groovy choreography 
1 person likes this.
Especially loved the beginning move!! 
1 person likes this.
This is so creative and fun.  Thanks for sharing this with us Mariska! 
Kate A
1 person likes this.
Awesome! i love the variations and creativity in your classes~
Kimberly S
1 person likes this.
I really enjoyed this creative class, especially the precise cuing since it's hard to do a reformer class while moving my laptop in all directions in order to see the screen. :)
Thanks all!! ☺️
Michele S
1 person likes this.
Thanks, always enjoy your classes.
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