A review of the Core Fitness Roller (CFR) and CoreBody Reformer
the latest pro and home Pilates Fitness equipment from Nautilus via Annovium
I was so excited when the folks at Annovium - who knew that the CFR is highly effective and that I, as a Pilates instructor, would love it - agreed to send me one to review. It arrived as described, with all parts, and I was able to take it apart and put it back together in less than 5 minutes total.
and The CoreBody Reformer which Amazon sells for approximately $280 - $249.95 plus $29.95 shipping.
it is in the firmness, and therefore the longevity, of the foam and in the quality of the educational workout DVDs. The Pro CFR is a bit firmer (in fact, I needed an extra pad to cushion my tailbone) and has much better DVDs with much more varied workouts and better technical instruction, but note that they are geared towards pilates and fitness professionals. For purposes of this review, consider the two versions to be the same.
The CFR is basically a firm foam roller with a hollow center compartment that holds a pulley bar with two pulleys that have three resistance levels (3, 6, 9 pounds) and can attach to hands or feet (similar to the straps on a Pilates Reformer). It comes with a detachable carry strap, two legs to keep the roller stable for most exercises, and instructional DVDs. Note that while the CFR is touted as being portable, it is heavy enough to be unwieldy to carry. For instance, I would take a taxi with the CFR to a client instead of walking with it and carrying it up and down the subway steps. I laughed at the video when the teacher carried the CFR up a mountain trail - I think not!
Many of the early exercises involve basic myofascial rolling, and for me the CFR is a bit too firm, which makes rolling my muscles painful. Even my black firm foam roller is softer! The firmness also made me need extra padding for my ankles to squeeze into it for stability in squats with arm work, and for my sacrum and tailbone when doing supine and seated exercises. A folded towel draped over the top works, as does a piece of yoga mat.
That said, the instability of the CFR combined with the ability to work arms and leg in straps against resistance in many different combinations (opposite arm and leg, for one) and in some planes that are helpful and not allowed by the actual reformer (resistance back overhead when supine) makes it a highly effective workout tool. It takes a lot of core strength to do every exercise, but my inner thighs, glutes, and triceps were also crazy sore the next day from the resistance work.
Note that I did not have a great experience with the home consumer CoreBody Reformer DVDs. I found the workout to contain too much forward flexion that caused me some lower back strain, and I was annoyed by the models - three teeny tiny perfectly shaped women in very small lycra outfits who were all teachers and did every exercise perfectly, instead of everyday real women (yes, even most pilates teachers have different bodies). The CFR Professional DVDs were better, but geared to teachers. I recommend YouTube!
Then I went to see Ann Toran at Pilates Reforming NY for a private CFR session, and that was what sold me. Ann took me right through a fabulous workout, and was able to refer back to Pilates exercises and anatomical language that helped me figure out what I needed to focus on in each exercise, and boy did that change the depth and effectiveness of the exercises!
Now I am better able to work with the CFR at home, because I have an idea of how the exercises should feel and what muscles or movement patterns each exercise is supposed to be targeting. If you decide to purchase either a Core Fitness Roller or CoreBody Reforrmer, I definitely recommend taking a private session with a CFR Certified Trainer before going out on your own.
While I highly recommend the CFR for anyone who does Pilates and would like to add equipment resistance work without spending thousands on a reformer, I also encourage Pilates and Fitness teachers to check it out. If you teach Pilates and are looking for a solid and easy to use piece of equipment to use with home clients, or to add to a mat only practice, the CFR is a great find at a great price point.
Here are some examples of basic CFR exercises, which will give you some idea of what you can do with it.