What Is Reformer Pilates? Everything You Need to Know


You may be familiar with the Pilates method, a popular low-impact workout invented by Joseph Pilates. It’s a popular method of exercise that helps stabilize and support your back, it aids in building strength from your core to your arms and legs, it even helps you feel more present as it’s movement done with the breath. 

If you’ve never tried out Pilates, there are many varieties you can test out. There’s Reformer, Classic, Mat and Clinical. 

Our preferred method is Mat Pilates, where you experience a full body workout without the need for any piece of equipment or the expensive Studio membership. But that’s not to say that we don’t love Reformer too, in fact we do!

What is Reformer Pilates?

If you’ve ever walked past a Reformer Pilates studio you’d have seen bed like frames lined up in a row. It is called a Reformer Machine and it is probably the most well known piece of Pilates equipment. 

If you attend a Studio class, you’ll find yourself in a small group class with the Pilates instructor walking around directing and assisting where required. 

What is the Reformer Machine? 

The Reformer Machine, also invented by Joseph Pilates, is a flat platform that uses little wheels, springs, pulleys, and ropes. The reformer workouts are performed on the flatbed. 

You lay down on the bed and with the aid of the ropes and springs, you use your arms and legs to pull and push or help you roll back and forth. Really, the best way to explain it is to experience it. 

Who Is Reformer Pilates Good For?

This fantastic full-body workout can be beneficial for everyone. It offers so much versatility whether you are a novice or advanced Pilates practitioner, you will get so much from this workout.

It is worth noting that Pilates Reformer is a very low-impact movement and workout, making it great for postpartum or post-operation/injury rehabilitation. It will help you to enjoy a fun, challenging, and rewarding movement practice that will help your recovery.  

What are the Benefits of Reformer Pilates?


Photo by Urban List.

Reformer Pilates Challenges Your Entire Body

The Reformer machine makes it easy to strengthen your entire body, especially your arms and legs, by using straps to do arm and leg curls, glute kickbacks, and shoulder raises. 

Although Mat Pilates is far more accessible, you do need to have slightly more body awareness. You also need to have the ability to create resistance and hold your body correctly. BUT, this can all be taught!

Reformer Pilates Lets You Control the Resistance

Since the Reformer machine uses springs as resistance, and since the Reformer machine allows you to attach and detach the springs, it allows you to select just how “heavy” any exercise feels. 

This means that Reformer Pilates is perfect for both beginners and experienced people.  You can increase and decrease the resistance load according to how you feel that day. 

Reformer Pilates is Versatile

The Reformer machine comes with multiple attachments and props, such as jump boards, poles, and plank bars, which allow for endless ways to do exercises. 

All of those accessories give you an option to use both closed-chain movements or open-chain movements and perform exercises lying down, kneeling, or standing up. 

Such a high level of versatility makes it easy to customize your Pilates workout according to your fitness goals and fitness level. 

Why Do Reformer Instead of Mat Pilates?

The choice between practicing Pilates on the Reformer or mat is personal, and it will be entirely up to you and your preferences. 

The obvious differences are that there is a Reformer machine. Really, you can do almost all the same exercises on your mat, but they will feel a little different. The other obvious difference is the price. 

Reformer Pilates is usually  $25-$30 per class or more. Whereas mat classes are a lot more cost effective. They are also far more accessible, you can even do it in the comfort of your own home with online classes.

The Reformer does offer the opportunity to be adjusted for rehabilitation needs, with exercises tailored to your movement inefficiencies and injury. 

Reformer and Mat Pilates, in fact, work perfectly together. It may not be possible to get to a Reformer Studio every day but perhaps you can get there once or twice a week. 

Then you can add your online Mat Pilates class to every other day in the comfort of your own home. 

Everything you learn through your Reformer exercises can be taken home to the mat class. 

If you’d like to try out a class right now, check out this class! This class includes Pilates exercises that focus on your mid section. 

You’ll work the core to build strength and confidence. The best thing about online classes is the fact that they work around your life. This class is just 10 minutes! Roll out the mat (or find some space!) and get to it! 

If you do the class, let us know all about it!

Always merrymaking.

Emma + Carla

Ps. If you’d like more online Pilates classes, sign up here and we’ll send you a class straight to your inbox!


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