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Chances are, if you’ve made it here, you’ve fallen deeply in love with reformer Pilates and are ready to commit and purchase a reformer machine for your home. You may have experimented with make-shift reformers using foam rollers, desk chairs, and even your gym’s rowing machines. Perhaps you recently moved away from your beloved Solidcore and no-frills mat Pilates just isn’t cutting it.
Not to worry: we’ve tapped the best in the business for tips on how to pick the perfect piece of equipment for recreating that Pilates studio magic. First things first, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re looking for so you can invest in a quality product.
What Is a Pilates Reformer, Exactly?
A reformer is an exercise apparatus designed to provide added resistance and support during Pilates exercises, explains New York Pilates founder Heather Anderson. It usually has a flatbed that moves along the carriage, as well as a foot bar at the bottom of the bed. It has adjustable springs to add resistance as you move the bed up and down the carriage, and there are straps that can be used with your hands and feet.
What to Know Before Buying a Pilates Reformer
There are quite literally a lot of moving parts, so Anderson emphasizes it’s important that you’ve taken several Pilates classes in-studio or have access to a Pilates instructor to ensure you’re employing proper form as you go through the moves at home. “You can’t fully learn Pilates online because you need someone to look at your form and help correct you,” Anderson explains. “Like any other sport, you need a coach.”
If you’re well into your Pilates journey and are considering investing, the experts emphasize that a reformer is worth the price tag, since its versatility is unmatched by any piece of gym equipment. Pilates offers tons of benefits, and hopping on a reformer only compounds what the practice can do for you. Using a Pilates reformer is the perfect base for low-impact strength training and conditioning, as well as improving coordination, mobility, and flexibility. Sylivia Roberts, Centr Pilates instructor and former professional ballet dancer, loves the reformer for its full-body support and resistance, noting that it’s also great for working through injuries.
However, before you invest in any piece of gym equipment, experts say it’s important to know your space, budget, and use case. When shopping for a reformer, Anderson notes that it’s best to opt for springs with coils over bungees to ensure you get more control in your movements. “You definitely want springs for a more consistent resistance and the ability to modify the difficulty as you advance,” she says. Roberts seconds this, adding: “Make sure you are purchasing a quality machine (they all look a lot alike online!) with a sturdy base, proper dimensions, and reliable springs.”
“It’s important to look for a reputable supplier to make the most of your investment,” agrees Robin Long, lead Pilates instructor and founder of Lindywell. If you’re limited by budget, she suggests looking at CraigsList, Facebook Market Place, or any studios going out of business to snag a deal.
Ahead, we share the best equipment that’s been vetted by experts and power users to make your Pilates reformer purchase one you won’t regret.