Reformer pilates: The fitness concept taking Doha by storm

Shereen D’Souza chats pilates with Jawaher Al Fardan

Reformer pilates: The fitness concept taking Doha by storm

Reformer pilates has taken the world by storm in recent times with its ability to transform bodies in a short time span. The sessions involve dynamic and powerful movements on the reformer machine, with resistance applied from springs and bands according to individual needs and preferences. Every class is challenging and engaging in equal proportions with more than 250 different movements.

After a whole year of food reviews and an average 10kg weight gain across the team, a few sessions of intense pilates seem like our best bet at transformation, although we have to admit we’ve never tried it before. Jawaher Al Fardan, co-founder of Encore Pilates, a one-of-a-kind fitness studio, however, recommends reformer pilates for everyone, including beginners. “The resistance on the reformer machine makes it much more intense than a regular pilates class, with each movement working your core alongside other muscles.

However, the machine also adds a lot of support in alignment, so that balances out the challenge. You can adjust the resistance on the machine according to your own individual fitness level, so the classes are great for beginners.

“As you gradually become more practised and proficient, you can begin to increase the resistance.”

Encore is a brand-new concept in Qatar with two bright studios, state-of-the-art equipment and a host of classes with personalised attention. Mohamed Abuissa and Jawaher Al Fardan are slowly but surely revolutionising the fitness industry in Qatar with their unique fitness and nutrition ventures. “I’ve always noticed how fitness is so interwoven into the fabric of peoples’ lives abroad. In LA, friends meet up for a spin class and grab a smoothie afterwards. In Bali, a group of you will go to Kundalini yoga together. In London, you socialise at a HIIT class. I realised the same thing could be possible in Qatar, we were just lacking the resources,” Al Fardan says. This is what she’s been working to change along with her husband and business partner Abuissa.

So, why specifically reformer pilates? Al Fardan has tried myriad fitness classes over the years but the one that’s changed her body the most, and helped build long, clean muscles, is reformer pilates. “It improves postures, works with injuries and strengthens those small but vital muscles which goes to show it’s suitable for everyone, regardless of your age, fitness level or background,” she explains.

What really works is that you can try reformer pilates irrespective of your fitness levels. Al Fardan, however, recommends attending at least one session before actually starting. She says, “In this class, you will be guided through a range of exercises on the reformer and learn how to move and flow with control. From here, you can move on to some of the more complex classes, such as Reformed Vinyasa (vinyasa yoga on the reformer) or Reformed Barre (a fusion of ballet barre work and reformer exercises).”

Aside from the brand new Encore Pilates, Al Fardan recommends Niya Yoga for mindfulness, peace, and connection; RideTribe for a sweaty, energetic, cathartic lift and OxFitness Lab for full-body training. “The beauty of these different ventures is there’s something for everyone, whether you’re into HIIT, cardio, strength-training, gentle movements or meditation.” She has a few more projects on the cards, but she’s not revealing much yet. We subtly hint by declaring how much we love underwater aqua bikes. “Now that’s a great idea,” she laughs. “We can’t share too much at this stage but make sure you come check out BeatBox, our new boxing studio at the Gate Mall.”
QR150 (single class). Daily 8am-8pm. West Bay (4020 6430). The Pearl-Qatar (4488 9861).

The Dos and Don’ts of reformer Pilates

Attend a Reformer Essentials class before any other class.

Let the instructor know about any injuries you have.

Wear appropriate clothing that you can move freely in.

Listen closely to the instructor’s cues, the movements are slightly different to those you would do in a full-weight-bearing class.

Eat for two hours before the class.

Come barefoot, you can rent or buy reformer-specific socks at the studio.

Be afraid to come if you are male.

It should be a key part of anyone’s training and injury prevention. Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and Hugh Grant all love reformer pilates.

Be surprised if you feel sore the next day, it means you’re working muscles you don’t usually work, and that’s a good thing.

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