Nicole Smith-Alvarez On The New Gratz Archive Reformer

Written by Nicole Smith-Alvarez



During my first workout on the 80 inch Gratz Archival Reformer, I was banging the carriage in on footwork. Blah! The slack on the springs make you work to control the carriage in, so no mindless footwork here! Still, after a great workout I thought deeply about how uncomfortable and confined I felt on this reformer, which made me want to return the following day. I love a challenge! It also made me rethink “the box”. After all, as practitioners of Pilates we aim for a two way stretch from each exercise that is supported by lift and control within the body.



Transition from Coordination to the Rowing Series
I love the Circle Links! They provide a smoother transition from exercise to exercise. This, along with the slight slack in the springs, allows each transition to feel effortless.

Photo Caption by Nicole Smith-Alvarez
Photo by M Scott Whitson Photography


Russian Splits
All of the big spilts feel superb on the Gratz Archival Reformer, it forces a more internal stretch. The shorter distance makes a practitioner focus purely on form and staying in the box.

Photo Caption by Nicole Smith-Alvarez
Photo by M Scott Whitson Photography



The Gratz Archival Reformer definitely gives you feedback and doesn’t allow the body to overextend in one way more than the other.

For example, during Semicircle it feels good to stretch the carriage out completely, but then you lose the purpose of this exercise: articulation of the spine. The shorter distance on the Gratz Archival Reformer forces a deeper articulation of the spine and provides more support. This allows the movement to be reformed each time.

Of course, now I am hooked! More articulation in the spinal column, deeper connection to the center line of the body, profound stretching, and effortless transitions. Delicious!

The simple yet powerful choice to provide the foot bar with only a skid proof sleeve provides an invigorating and intense foot massage. It will leave you saying “hello feet, I have missed you”. After all, it is crucial to align the body correctly starting in the beginning with Footwork. Our feet are our foundation.

Proper alignment and strength for the entire body, including the pinky toe, is provided with minimal to no cushion on the foot bar. “Hello” to the pressure points on the feet and hands. Let’s not forget the feedback provided from the denser material on the carriage. The adjustments made to the Gratz Archival Reformer are hard to spot at first glance: circle links, deeper gear grooves, slight tilt in the trajectory of the straps, and the foot bar. These adjustments to the Gratz Archival Reformer will require a practitioner to dig deeper into each exercise, allowing and requiring minimal movement for maximum results.


Semi Circle
The Gratz Archival Reformer forces a deeper flexion within the spine while articulating the spine below the carriage.

Photo Caption by Nicole Smith-Alvarez
Photo by M Scott Whitson Photography



I am Nicole Smith-Alvarez, mother to two beautiful girls (7 years old & 9 months old). For more than a decade, my passion was driven by performing 8 shows a week with Disney’s Broadway show The Lion King. Pilates was introduced to me while I was on tour. My Pilates experience really started the moment I was introduced to Romana at her studio in Arlington, Texas. Metroplex Pilates is lead by ChaCha Guerrero. Her diligent commitment to Joseph Pilates’ Contrology method has instilled a deep passion in me to share this work. While touring, I was blessed with the opportunity to learn from many wonderful teachers. My list is endless and my gratitude is everflowing.


Long Stretch
Long line of energy from head to heel.

Frogs and Leg Circles
Anchor the box, pull the abdominal muscles in and up. Pelvic stability while strengthening the hips.

Photo Caption by Nicole Smith-Alvarez
Photo by M Scott Whitson Photography



Currently, I have a quaint home studio in Philadelphia just a few short miles from the Gratz factory. My gypsy blood keeps me traveling from time to time as an independent contractor. I travel to support other studios during their high seasons, provide coverage to allow studio owners to travel without closing their studios, teach workshops and online classes. The best part of being a part of this Pilates community is connecting with others and continuing Joe’s method.


"Contrology [Pilates] is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace,
and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk,
in the way you play, and in the way you work."

- Joseph Pilates


I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts. The Pilates community is hungry for any and all information about Joe’s method. This opportunity for teachers to share in taking the Gratz Archival Reformer for a ride is divine.

Conversations have begun and curiosity is brewing. Let’s keep it going!

Cheers to all!





Choose between our standard Aluminum & Wood Handles or Leather & Wood Handles or our traditional Gratz Archive Stainless Steel Wire Handles or Aluminum and Wood Trapezoidal Handles. Choose between a pair of Thin or Thick Black Rubber Pads.





About Nicole Smith-Alvarez

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York Nicole Alvarez began her formal dance training at John Dewey H.S. under the artistic guidance of the John Michael Goring and continued her undergraduate work in business management at Long Island University. She is also the recipient of several scholarships to some of the most prestigious dance institutions including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Ballet Hispanico. Nicole held the principal dancer position with the Lula Washington Dance Theater and has graced many stages around the world receiving rave reviews by national critics. Nicole credits her professional dance career to numerous companies including; Eleo Pomare Dance Company, Louis Johnson Dance Theater Ensemble, and Ballet Hispanico Ensemble.

Read more about Nicole Smith-Alvarez on her website,


Nicole Smith-Alvarez

Home Studio: Philadelphia, PA
Phone: (917) 749 - 6907

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