How to know when to replace your springs in 3 easy steps

Since the springs on your Pilates equipment are integral to the method you teach your clients, it is absolutely necessary to make sure they are safe.  But how, exactly, do you determine whether a spring is safe?  Here is a simple three step guide to keeping you and your clients safe in the studio.

Step one: Make a Plan

Schedule a time every month that is convenient for you to make a quick round of the studio.  I’ve been to many studios that know what to do, but don’t actually do it because they didn’t schedule a check in their month so other priorities consistently pushed equipment checks down the To Do list.

The best plan is one that you will actually do, so figure out a way that works best for your studio.  It could be you, the owner, your office manager, or a designated instructor who has taken on the extra responsibility.  I’ve visited some creative studios where each instructor has one or two pieces of equipment assigned to them, and they are responsible for all maintenance of those pieces, not just spring checks.  Other busy studios have traded Pilates classes for two or three hours of monthly maintenance work with a trusted client of theirs.  Whatever the method, make sure it’s one you can easily and regularly execute.

Step Two: Record what you See and Do

Using a maintenance log to track your monthly checks will make your life much easier not only tracking spring condition but other maintenance tasks as well.  Your log can be as official as the one Balanced Body sells, or as simple as a lined notebook or Excel document on your computer.  Not all your springs will be changed at the same time, so you may have springs of varying ages on different pieces of equipment.

In my log, I typically have a page where I note the date and my initials every time I do an inspection.  Then, I have one additional page for each piece of equipment where I record the serial number, purchase date, and any relevant observations, upgrades, part or spring replacements for that particular apparatus.

Step Three: Inspect Your Springs

When you inspect your springs, look for things that don’t look uniform.  This may include:

  • A gap in the coils when at rest
  • A wave in the coils
  • A kink or shift in the coils
  • Rust or other significant discoloration
  • When expanded, coils that don’t open evenly

The pictures below show a few examples I’ve come across in my travels.

To find anomalies like these, be sure you check the WHOLE spring.  One of these examples was hidden under the Reformer carriage, so no one noticed it until I peeked my head underneath.  When you see something that doesn’t look normal, stop using the spring immediately.  It could break!  And, as always, if you find any suspicious-looking springs you aren’t sure about, send a photo to your manufacturer’s Tech Support.

This post also appears on the Balanced Body Blog.

Why cleaning your Reformer rails is fast, easy and necessary

The cleanliness of your equipment can greatly detract from the Pilates experience.  You and your client should be focused on the movement, not tuning out bumps and squeaks as the carriage travels within the frame.

One of the easiest things you can do for your Reformer is to wipe the rails and surface of the wheels every week with a damp microfiber cloth.  If you do this regularly, you will be able to quickly and easily get the dirt and grime off the rails and wheels, which will help the carriage travel smoothly for years to come.

There are a few additional benefits of regular cleaning besides simply improving a client’s experience on the Reformer.  First, regular light cleaning eliminates the need for harsh chemicals.  I normally clean the Reformer rails and wheels with a microfiber cloth that is damp with water.  Yep!  Just water!  This gets scuffs, dirt and hair off very easily.  The danger of using special cleaners, even multi-purpose cleaners, is that over time you can damage the finish on the wood frame or aluminum rails.

Second, all that hair and dirt on the rails migrates up into your wheels and gets wrapped around the axle and caught in the bearings.  Hair around the axles is harder to clean once it’s on the wheels (you’ll have to take the carriage out of the frame), and once the gunk disappears into the bearings it causes a grinding feeling, as if you are riding over sandpaper instead of smooth aluminum rails.  At this point, you’ll need completely new wheels to restore the original feel.

And finally, your Reformer looks clean, which reflects well on your studio.

If you haven’t been cleaning your Reformer rails regularly, you may have some nasty gunk built up on them. For this, a wet cloth probably won’t get the job done, so you will need some water and a folded piece of aluminum foil (the same thing you use in your kitchen!). Spray the water on the rail, scrub until the water turns black, and then wipe the dirty water off with the rag. Repeat the process until the rail is clean, or you’ve repeated six times. Once you do a deep clean, be sure to follow it up with weekly light cleanings because frequent scrubs with aluminum foil could take a toll on the metal coating of the rails. 
This post also appears on the Balanced Body blog.