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The Gratz: A Pilates Instructor’s Journey to Mature Love

Reformer Pilates classes in Aledo, TX

The Gratz Pilates equipment line is the oldest and considered to be the most quintessential line of equipment by the absolute purists of the classical/traditional method of Pilates. Reason being is that it most identically represents the engineering dimensions and specifics of the equipment Joseph Pilates and his brother built and used in his studio. The specifications matter greatly, because they are thought to best serve Joseph Pilates’ intentions for each and every exercise in the method for uniformly developing the body. Currently in the Pilates industry, there is a definitive noticeable shift of Pilates professionals choosing to change their equipment line to the Gratz equipment if they have not been previously completely devoted to this line.

I have been exposed to the Gratz equipment intermittently in my 20 plus years of practicing classical Pilates and 17 years of teaching. In my history, there was always an ancient ghost-like Gratz in the corner of one studio or another.  To be transparent, my varied past classical teacher training educators are very reputable second generation teachers widely respected with high regard, but none of them were elitists when it came to equipment type. They did not prescribe to the notion that the classical Pilates method is only deemed “classical” if done on the Gratz equipment line. Quite frankly, I was told early in my teaching career that a Reformer was considered “classical” if it had leather straps and 4 springs.

Recently, I had a fellow Pilates professional and good friend keep raving about Gratz equipment. I thought to myself, there must be something to it if so many classical teachers choose this line for their studios and revere it as a mystical Greek God. I knew it was the Universe giving me a nudge when a barely used one with my aesthetic preference appeared for sale a few states away. Within a matter of days, she had a new home in my studio!

I steadily got to work exploring and analyzing the method on the Gratz Reformer and how it differed comparatively. The sensations and transformational difference I saw in my body after just one month’s time were irrefutable and unbelievable, and I knew what I felt tapped into an undeniable truth.  Once I experienced this, I naturally wanted it for all my clients. After all, isn’t that our mission and why we passionately, whole-heartedly do what we do as instructors… to make a real difference in people’s bodies, strength, and development to serve and empower their greater health?

Upon exploring, I gained new insights and appreciation for many of the qualities of the Gratz (most specifically the Reformer)  that maybe I just hadn’t been evolved enough to understand prior.


Three Positive Distinctions Experienced on the Gratz Reformer:

  • The raised upholstery  feeling- it no longer feels too squishy to me, but rather, like an intentional partner helping me achieve the tensegrity of the exercises and suspension from underneath my back body. This was a distinct difference to the equipment line I was working on before, where I had to over work to create and maintain the suspension all myself with little support from the Reformer.
  • I have come to respect what is known as the “drag,” which is where the carriage wheels stop prematurely approximately a half inch from closing the carriage for the purpose of utilizing one’s deepest center muscles to close the carriage completely, which develops incredible strength. It no longer feels like an abrupt halt, but more of a welcomed challenge to get those abdominals working at a layer of depth one didn’t even know existed!
  • The most noticeable and significant difference in the Gratz Reformer for me personally, is the taller height and narrowness of the foot bar paired with its closer distance relative to the carriage. This combination makes such a drastic difference on many exercise sequences as I feel much more balanced, connected, and supported in my body from end to end. It gets me extremely integrated in my joints and organized around my center.  It does not allow me to hang in my flexible areas.  Most specifically, it improved a shoulder imbalance that I was overcompensating for on the equipment line I was using previously due to the relation of the foot bar dimensions being lower, wider, and more distal to the carriage. This is especially evident in the entire Long Stretch Series.

Overall, after just one month of working on the Gratz Reformer, I saw my body transform, lengthen out, chisel, and deeply strengthen. Interestingly, my workouts actually feel more efficient and less fatiguing. Now, I crave working on the Reformer and feel greatly connected and energetic, whereas previously the Reformer used to be my least favorite apparatus.

It has been such an eye opening monumental experience that I decided to make the investment of replacing my studio equipment with the Gratz line to best serve my clients.  I have seen my clients’ bodies change, strengthen, and uniformly develop. It has been incredibly powerful to witness, and I feel my mission to empower my clients to greater health is supported and partnered by the Gratz equipment line.

Wishing you Wellness,
Lindy Irwin

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