An interview with Paul Tesoriero, Pilates Equip
I recently had the pleasure of sitting and talking with Paul Tesoriero, the designer and craftsperson behind Pilates Equip, about equipment maintenance. Many of you would have had the opportunity of working on some of Pilates Equip’s equipment at our most recent conference in Sydney last year. Paul has been a part of the Pilates Industry since the early 2000’s (originally as The Joint Workshop) and his passion for the equipment is evident to all that deal with him.
PAA Committee Member
Director of Sydney Centred Pilates Studio, Educator with Polestar Education AU
The Importance of Maintenance
“Don’t Spring Me Down”
The condition of springs in the Pilates studio is paramount. A failed spring can have disastrous consequences depending on the exercise taking place at the time. From the perspective of a new client it is a challenge to trust the springs if you have witnessed one fail previously.
“Check all springs by slightly stretching the spring from the spring’s loop at the end of the spring, until the coils start to open. If a small section of the spring barrel separates while the rest of the coils remain close, the spring is faulty and should be replaced. Also look for obvious bends in the spring’s barrel. These should also be replaced.”
Reformer springs should be examined without the carriage obstructing your view so you will likely need to look from underneath the reformer or remove the springs from the reformer in order to follow Paul’s advice noted above. Springs can fail in the centre which might not be obvious when looking at them while in use.
If a spring has been released suddenly if may develop with a dog leg bend. Rusty or corroded springs are also faulty.
Where possible, rest springs overnight so that they are off tension.
“Would You Wash your face with that?”
When looking after the vinyl on all of the Pilates apparatus keep it simple. Keep in mind that most vinyls contain antibacterial properties so harsh cleaners are not necessary. Dropping a few cornflake sized pieces of pure soap (like Sunlight Soap) into your spray bottle is the best way to maintain a hygienic environment that will look after the equipment. You can find this soap in the laundry section of most supermarkets.
Paul has noticed that many studios use essential oils as part of their cleaning regimen (with tea tree, lavender and eucalyptus as the favourites). While essential oils have many fantastic properties, using them on the vinyl of your equipment will do more harm than good.
Essential oils, bleach, methylated spirits, baby wipes (some of these contain alcohol), antibacterial sprays, detergents, bathroom hand cleanser and citrus cleaners will all strip the vinyl of the oil that maintains it’s resilience and make it more prone to cracking. Many of these products are designed to remove grease but are simply too harsh for the Pilates studio. The first indicator vinyl is drying out is that it will start to appear shiny. Once the vinyl begins to dry out there is not a way to reverse this- unlike your skin you cannot moisturise your Pilates equipment after cleansing!
Paul recommends cleaning your vinyl a minimum of once per day.
To clean loops and handles, Paul recommends hand washing as necessary. During cold and flu season, you may choose to wash your straps more regularly. Depending on the floor coverings in your studio more or less dirt may travel from your clients feet onto the straps.
“Know Your Equipment”
Having a regular schedule to clean your equipment will help you notice changes not only to the appearance of the equipment but also allow you to tune in to the way the equipment feels and sounds. When using the reformer, listen the rolling of the machine- if the movement of the reformer carriage is audible it is likely to be due for a clean.
Wipe the reformer tracks down twice weekly with a damp cloth to remove dust. No additional cleaning products are required on your tracks. When wiping down the tracks, run your damp cloth against the rolling wheels too so that they also get a clean.
Gunky black marks on the tracks are likely to be deposits of dust. A non-scratch scourer such as the green Scotch-Brite pads (found in the dishwashing section of the supermarket) will help to remove this and you will be able to wipe the track easily after this.
If the carriage is not rolling smoothly and you have been maintaining the tracks regularly the bearings of the reformer may be wearing out. If this is the case your bearings would need to be replaced.
“Conduct a Thorough Inspection of each Apparatus Monthly”
On the trapeze table/cadillac you will also need to monitor the clips that connect the spring to the eye bolts. Check that the clips are closing fully and that there is no wear at the point of contact between the clip and the eye bolt. If your push through bar or slider bars are moved with retractable pins, ensure that these are retracting evenly and quickly. Similarly, screws or wing nuts should move evenly when tightening.
Chairs with handles also often adjust using retractable pins- again, ensure these are responding equally to each other. Lock handles in when full body weight is going onto the handles rather than relying on the ‘stand by’ setting.
Ropes and straps may appear fuzzy as they move with the equipment. Paul advises that this is usually fine but any sign of thinning will need to be addressed. Frayed stitching should also be addressed as it may affect the integrity of the strap.
“Act on Warning Signs sooner than later”
Be proactive when attending to your equipment rather than waiting for a service to attend to any unstable fixings (would you ignore an unstable pelvis during a movement?) It is important to understand the equipment and be aware of where its stability comes from.
All Pilates studios should have an allen key, screwdriver and shifting spanner (monkey wrench) on hand. Most issues that arise can be acted upon quickly and monitored over the following weeks. Conduct a specific inspection of the bolts every three months. All bolts on each piece of equipment should be fastened tightly (except for the knobs for the jump board on the reformer and the ladder barrel).
If you find a nut or bolt on the floor of your studio don’t put it to the side and forget about it. If you cannot find where a stray item has come from, ask for help within your team or contact the manufacturer as soon as possible to resolve.
“Work Within the Machine’s Limits”
As Pilates instructors we work as a team with the apparatus to provide a safe experience for our clients.
Consider the direction of force when getting creative on the Pilates apparatus. Direct force into the centre of the equipment and consider what you are asking of the machine. Trapeze tables/cadillacs have a capacity to tip sideways. Be aware of how you position a body on the equipment. Consider the rebound of springs on the moving carriage of the reformer.
By respecting the equipment not only will you keep your clients safe but you will increase the longevity of the equipment too.
Paul Tesoriero, Pilates Equip