Reformer studio offers unique version of Pilates for all ages and fitness levels
Written by Lauren Dowdle
Photos by Dawn Harrison
The aches, pains and injuries that come with life can slow you down — which is the exact opposite of what your body needs if it’s having these problems. Someone who can definitely relate to all of that is Ainslie McLean.
Growing up, McLean played soccer and continued to through college. So it seemed only natural that she would go to a pick-up game as an adult. But during the game, she got side tackled, which led to her needing her ACL reconstructed. That was just the first of many health setbacks.
“As I got older and had kids, I became debilitated,” McLean says. “My hips hurt all of the time, and I couldn’t run anymore. I was miserable.”
She saw various doctors who took x-rays and MRIs, only to say that everything was fine. “They just gave me pain killers, and I’m allergic to them,” she says. “Muscular pain doesn’t necessarily show up on x-rays or MRIs, but the pain is real. It can be debilitating.”
Her friend even invited her to a Pilates class to see if it would help, but McLean ended up just hurting more afterward. Still looking for some relief, she tried a Reformer class a year later and actually felt better after the first time.
The Reformer machine is based off of the exercises of Joseph Pilates — founder of Pilates — except it involves taking all of the gravity and weight off of the person’s weakest points. The frame rolls back and forth on wheels, and there are also straps that can be used for feet and hands.
“You can burn 969 calories an hour, without getting all hot and sweaty afterward,” she says. “You’ll feel so much better. It’s a doable lifestyle change for real people: People just haven’t heard of it.”
After going to these classes for a while, her Reformer teacher suggested she should make a job out of it and teach her own classes. McLean followed her advice and began working toward her certification.
As part of the process, she had to teach 100 free hours, and she was able to do that at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen, becoming Balanced Body Certified.
It would seem everything was going in the right direction for McLean to have a happy and healthy lifestyle, but her body had other plans.
She had a heart attack at age 39 and later found out she had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and lupus — which caused her to have arthritis. Those were all things she wasn’t expecting, especially considering her focus on fitness.
Instead of making her conditions a life sentence of immobility, she continued with her Reformer passion and began working on making it a business of her own.
In February 2015, she opened Reformu Reformer Training Studio and moved to her current location in the Inverness Highlands shopping center. It’s a way for her to help others find the physical relief and wellness she has come to enjoy, she says.
“Before, I couldn’t sleep, walk or be a good mom and wife,” McLean recalls. “The Reformer worked the very first time. It takes your pain away, so why wouldn’t you try it?
“If something hurts, you’ll stop and try something else,” she continues. “There are 400 exercises you can try.”
Her client success stories include a 79-year-old man who had bypass surgery and tight hamstrings who was able to fix his muscle issues without surgery.
And that list goes on and on.
“Everybody’s issues are different. We ask them about their goals and go from there,” McLean explains. “When you feel like you can move, your whole life is better.”
Her business partner, Frankie Romano, joined the team in February 2015. He brought experience from working in physical therapy and training athletes, along with personal trainer certifications. He also works with clients who want to strength train in a different room in the studio.
“It works every muscle in the body and increases mobility,” Romano says. “If they keep doing this, they can do the activities they want to do in life.”
The studio has three Reformer machines, so the instructors can give each person one-on-one attention. It’s that intimate, comfortable setting and results that keep people coming back, McLean says.
She’d like to have more studio locations in the future, but right now, McLean and her team are currently focused on perfecting the current business.
Each training session lasts an hour and costs $35, and the first one is free.
Reformu Reformer Training Studio is located at 5299 Valleydale Road Suite 119 next to South Eastern Jewelers in the Inverness Highlands shopping center. For more information about the Reformer experience and benefits, visit Bouncebody.com or Pilates.com.
McLean and Romano train by appointment only. To schedule a training session, email Ainsliepilates@gmail.com or call 249-0043. They teach private sessions seven days a week.