Photos courtesy of Ainslie McLean.
Speed skating is just one of several exercises Hannakah Rubin includes in her routine when working out at Reformu Reformer Training.
Ainslie McLean had been an athlete all her life. But after the birth of her second child, she began experiencing severe back and hip pain, the source of which doctors could not pinpoint.
“I was 31 and seeing more and more doctors, having MRIs, pain blocks and X-rays,” McLean said. “Nothing seemed visibly wrong to the professionals, but the pain just worsened so I stopped all my exercise activities, which was devastating.”
In 2003, a friend convinced McLean to try Pilates using the reformer machine that, she said, gave her instant relief.
“It improved my quality of life to the point that I wish every medical professional knew about its benefits,” she said. “All back pain is not the same, but I found that pain from muscle tightness and imbalance really improved using this method.”
The Pilates program helped McLean’s condition so much that she became a certified Reformer instructor through Balanced Body University. She has been the owner of Reformu Reformer Training for the past 10 years and recently opened a studio at Inverness Highlands, 5209 Valleydale Road.
There, she and trainer Frankie Romano conduct private classes for individuals or up to three participants by appointment only. The studio features three Reformer machines and, choosing from more than 400 Reformer exercises, McLean develops exercise programs tailored to the needs of each client.
According to McLean, the Reformer is a clinical rehabilitation machine that takes gravity away from the body and allows resistance training without stress on joints.
“The jump board attachment turns a full body workout program into cardio and calorie burning exercise, as well,” she said.
Hannakah Rubin, 33 and a resident of the Greystone area, has been a client of McLean’s for 2 1/2 years and works with the instructor three times a week.
According to Rubin, she worked out regularly but had hit a plateau and hadn’t been successful targeting certain areas.
“I found that on the Reformer that I was strengthening the muscles in my lower back, targeting my abs and improving the back of my legs, plus I’m much more flexible, my core is stronger and I have better balance,” Rubin said. “As opposed to going to a gym, this is unique and varied and the focus is on you. And I’ve done cycling and boot camps but had never seen this type of improvement.”
McLean suffered a heart attack at age 39 and was diagnosed with lupus. But today, at 46, she credits Reformer training for the symptom control and high quality of life she has enjoyed for several years.
“When you don’t feel good and have physical issues, it is not easy to exercise, and this method allows you to have a complete workout including cardio, with modifications to make it safe for people of most any age,” she said. “It’s really a lifestyle choice.”