Dedicated Pilates fiends know that this form of exercise brings all kinds of
benefits with it, and a Pilates reformer machine takes the workout up to the next level. It helps you increase your mobility, overall strength, core, and balance, says Studio SWEAT onDemand‘s Pilates trainer Sam Belle. “Pilates moves the spine in all four planes of motion, and focuses on rebalancing the inevitable imbalances we all have due to our daily activities and posture,” she explains.
Sure, you can achieve all the feel-good benefits of Pilates on a mat—improved core strength and flexibility, reduced back pain, improved posture, and the like—without equipment or even in-person classes. However, there are definitely some perks to doing Pilates reformer-based workouts.
Peep some of the best pilates machines, below:
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What are the benefits of doing Pilates on a reformer?
Classically-trained ballet dancer and Pilates instructor Melissa Bentivoglio says that while mat Pilates can be practiced in low to high intensity, your brain and body activate totally different muscles (called stabilizers) when you’re on a reformer, allowing for a more challenging full body workout. “Your balance and focus are challenged by being elevated on the reformer,” she says. “Through small controlled movements and customizable weight resistances, you can strengthen, tone, and build endurance all in one workout while implementing safe, progressive overloads for your fitness needs.”
And, Carrie Minter, certified Pilates instructor and founder of Carrie’s Pilates Plus in Los Angeles, agrees. “The reformer machine works your entire body,” she says. “The springs and cables on it change the tension, so you get much more of a workout than you would on just a mat.”
Is a Pilates reformer machine worth it?
Pilates reformer machines are not exactly cheap—the best ones are typically over $2,000, though you can certainly find budget buys without any bells and whistles for $200 to $400. So, if you already have the cash or plan on swapping this machine for your gym membership, it’ll definitely be worth the cost over time, especially if you want to save on time going back and forth from the gym.
“Doing reformer Pilates at home also allows you to go at your own pace in an intuitive, personalized way, with the best technology available at your fingertips if you get a quality machine,” says Bentivoglio. “Additionally, in-person classes can be large or too fast paced for the instructor to be able to check or guide all participants’ form.” That’s why she says it’s important that if you’re a beginner, you stick to beginner classes till you’re fully comfortable with the machine.
How do you choose the best Pilates reformer machine for you?
“Whatever reformer you can get your hands on is the right reformer for you, depending on your price point,” says Heather Andersen, founder and owner of New York Pilates. “If you need one that folds under a bed, pick that one. If you have a big space, maybe pick one that’s an actual professional model that studios use. The most important thing is that you have one, so pick the reformer that works best for your living situation.”
See below for some of the best Pilates reformer machines you can shop right now, according to trained experts.