Sarah Comer, pilates instructor, teaches a class at the Wellness Hub in Haliburton. /Danielle Meredith Photography

Time to reform a new mindset

By Emily Stonehouse
There’s more than one way to workout. In this day and age of social media, viewers are inundated with varying degrees of workouts, with some labeled as “bad” and others as “good”. It’s almost impossible to know where to start.
It’s this insecurity, this doubt, this uncertainty, that Sarah Comer is trying to help with. “I believe that we should lean into the idea of working out for how it makes us feel, more than for how it makes us look,” she told the Echo.
It is with this mindset that the Minden resident and co-owner of the Wellness Hub wishes to mitigate some questions around her preferred workout tool: the Reformer.
The Reformer was invented by Joseph Pilates, the father of the original pilates movement. “Joseph Pilates is well known for his mat pilates repertoire, developed prior to his invention of the reformer,” said Comer. “The Pilates Reformer is among the most diverse workout equipment in the industry, with over 150 exercises in Joseph Pilates Repertoire alone.”
Pilates really started to gain popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people were looking for exercises they could do at home with little to no equipment. The whole concept of Pilates is a mind-body connection that improves strength, alignment, and breathing.
Comer shared that she first came across Pilates when she was working an administrative job at Haliburton County Chiropractic and Rehabilitation in Minden. She describes herself as a lifelong “mover”, which was what made practice so desirable to her.
Through her explorations, she discovered the Reformer, which was primarily being used by physiotherapists as a tool for rehabilitation. “The reformer allows for strength building through resistance training and bodyweight exercises, as well as mobility training,” she said. “The Reformer helps us get into positions that would feel less accessible on the mat, allowing for a more comfortable, and sometimes deeper stretch.”
With this in mind, Comer set out to bring Reformer sessions to Haliburton County. She believes the tool offers a level of accessibility to all ages and body types. “The Reformer allows for modification and progressions to meet all fitness levels,” she said. “I have seen clients as young as the age of 11, all the way up to 75.”
Comer shared that while the Reformer sessions are open to anyone, she has seen great benefits when working with clients who are postpartum, and are working on regaining core and pelvic floor strength, as well as clients with injuries or chronic illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis (MS). “I have a client who has MS and the progression in their stability and muscle control has been amazing to watch,” she shared. “The machine inspires innovation and allows for the creation of new exercises of trained movement.”
With the Reformer being a fairly new tool, particularly in the Haliburton Highlands, Comer hopes that people are open-minded to the practice – particularly considering the benefits. “I think people can draw a new mindset around working out with the reformer,” she said. “It inspires a mind-body connection, and requires you to slow down and use your muscles with control and intention.”
The main focus for Comer is the hope that anyone knows they can work out, despite any physical or mental challenges. “I believe working out should be functional, efficient and fun,” she said, “It should be just as much a physical experience as it is a mental experience.”
Comer noted that with the Reformer, there are opportunities for any type of workout, with modifications available along the way. She believes that modifications do not make any workout less than another, but rather, they allow individuals to get the most out of each exercise. “I believe we should meet our restrictions with curiosity, not shame,” she said.
The Reform Studio is one of 13 independent businesses that are housed at the Wellness Hub in Haliburton. Comer runs the Reform sessions, and is also the co-owner of the Hub, alongside Shay Hutchings. For more information on the Reformer, visit on Instagram.