How to Use a Pilates Performer

Pilates exercises were developed by Joseph Pilates. They put emphasis on developing the core and flexibility to elongate and strengthen the body. The Pilates Performer was created to enhance your home workout or accompany workout DVDs at home. It is a smaller, simpler version of the Reformer, an exercise machine that is found only in Pilates studios. Here are the steps to follow to learn how to use a Pilates Performer.


  1. 1
    Set up your Performer. Put the machine on a level surface where the ground is completely flat. Make sure that there is enough room around the machine as well. Attach the tension cords into the correct slots on the resistance bar.
  2. 2
    Lie down on the Performer and put your head in the headrest and your feet on the foot bar. Use your legs to push out so that carriage, or sliding bench, glides back and forth. Make sure that the carriage glides easily.
  3. 3
    Adjust your headrest so that your head is in a position where it is tilted slightly toward your chest. Your neck should be extended a little and your shoulders should be on the shoulder pads of the Performer.
  4. 4
    Position your heels in the foot rest and adjust it so that your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle when the carriage is at starting position. The tension cables should be underneath your legs.
  5. 5
    Fix the resistance of the elastic tension cables. Shorten them if you think you need more resistance or lengthen the cables if you need less. You should leave at least 1 cable at an average resistance setting, 1 at a heavier resistance and 1 at half the resistance of the average setting.
  6. 6
    Adjust the cords that are attached to the pulleys. You should be able to comfortably stretch your legs when you have your feet in the attached loops and are lying face up on the carriage. You should be able to pull your legs in toward your body so that your legs are at a 90 degree angle without bumping the carriage on the foot bar.
  7. 7
    Perform Pilates exercises on the Performer. Just as you would do mat exercises, execute proper control and balance when doing your exercises. Pay attention to your breathing; inhale deeply and exhale while you pull in your core. If you feel you need some guidance in doing the Pilates moves on the Performer machine, there are DVDs available that teach you a routine done on the Performer.
    • A few basic Pilates exercises that can be done on the Performer are footwork, the hundred and leg circles. To do the footwork exercise, you will lay on the carriage with the balls of your feet on the foot bar. Rotate your knees outward as you squeeze your buttocks. Hold your heels high, bend your knees and return the carriage back to start. Do 8 repetitions. Next, do 8 repetitions of the same exercise with your arches on the foot bar instead. Lastly, do 8 more reputations with your heels on the bar.
    • The hundred is an exercise that warms up your body and works your core. Lie on your back and hold the straps in your hands. Extend your legs to the ceiling so that your body is in a 90 degree angle. Keeping your legs straight, slowly lower them until your abdominals are engaged but your tailbone remains on the carriage. Raise your head and shoulders off the carriage and stretch your arms forward, parallel to the ground. Pump your hands 5 times as you inhale and 5 times as you exhale. You will pump your arms a total of 100 times.
    • Leg circles will work your thighs. Put your feet through the straps and extend them up toward the ceiling. Drop them down until your abdominals are engaged. Lower both legs to the side then raise them back up to starting position. Do 6 repetitions on both directions.

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Categories: Pilates