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A Guide To Pilates Equipment

6 min read

Pilates equipment.

The choice of equipment for lovers of the exercise has evolved beyond the central trio of the reformer, Pilates Cadillac, and chair- and with it brought exciting new possibilities and, for those new to Pilates, palpable confusion.

There’s so much of it, so many ways to use it, and frankly so many ways to misuse it.

This is why every Pilates enthusiast must make themselves familiar with the whole spectrum of Pilates equipment.

This is to ensure students not only understand how to use and choose Pilates exercise machines but also so the risk of them sustaining injury or damage can be significantly reduced.

So, let’s go on a journey to explore all the exciting Pilates exercise machines out there and discover along the way how they may work for you. 

Pilates Reformer 

What is it? 

The Pilates reformer, ergo the big cheese of Pilates equipment, remains the most popular and sought out of all the Pilates exercise machines.

It consists of a flat platform called the carriage on a bed-like frame that rolls forwards and back on wheels. It’s attached via a series of springs, which provide essential resistance to your Pilates workout.

What exercises can I do on it? 

So many! With moves like short box rowing, leg circles, and the frog being particularly popular.

The Pilates reformer is not only ideal for building and toning your muscles but also targeting areas of the body that endure frequent strain- like your back, thighs, glutes, and core. It’s a top dog machine for correcting your body alignment and getting your flexibility and coordination back on track. 

Who Is It Best for?

An all-around reliable machine that works for everyone, the reformer comes highly recommended for newcomers to Pilates. Prices range from premium highs to super affordable rates, according to what level of functionality you want. If you’re on the hunt for one of your own, make sure you visit our list of the best Pilates reformers

Pilates Cadillac 

What is it? 

The Pilates Cadillac, also known as the trapeze Table’ or dungeon masseuse bed, is perhaps the most unique looking of all the Pilates exercise machines. 

It features a bed-like base with an overhanging metal frame, its trapeze, from which hang bars, pulleys, and ropes which the user can interact with. 

What exercises can I do on it? 

Exercise? You can defy gravity with the Pilates Cadillac! Well, if you are really, really strong. Moves like the candlestick, and 180 degree inverted pike, allow you to hold yourself upside down using the Trapeze. 

However, If you’re ‘vertically challenged’ like me, don’t worry- there are plenty of other acrobatic and dynamic Pilates exercises you can perform using the Cadillac just through stationary stretching, balancing, reaching, and pulling. It’s a piece of Pilates equipment with expansive exercise possibilities, making it a dynamic and durable option for both amateur and professional Pilates lovers alike. 

Who Is It Best for?

Elevated from the ground with a comfortable, reinforced bed, a Pilates Cadillac is especially supportive for older or disabled clientele, including those suffering from chronic illness. 

It helps Pilates enthusiasts achieve a lean muscular tone without direct pressure on the joints or legs. As it’s a big piece of equipment, it’s not super cheap, but the investment is worth it. 

Pilates Chair 

What is it? 

The Pilates Wunda Chair is, yes you guessed it, a chair. But with a twist.

It’s a chair that was designed by good old Joseph Pilates to do Pilates on- fitted with pulleys, pedals, and adjustable features. 

The ultimate 2-in-1 purchase, you can sit on this piece of equipment to chill with your friends and then break into the rising swan mid-conversation to assert dominance. On an aesthetic and functional level, it makes a quirky and unconventional addition to your living and exercising space.  

What exercises can I do on it? 

Balance, balance, balance baby. The Wunda chair is all about moves that benefit the abdomen, the spine, the pelvic region, and the lower back.

So it’s great for moves that involve posing, stretching, balancing for extended periods. Through moves like this, it will also work wonders for your arms, shoulders, neck, and spine. 

Who Is It Best for?

Again, this is a Pilates exercise machine that works for everyone. It’s not as expensive as a Cadillac or reformer, which is a major plus. 

Potential buyers should especially keep in mind, that using a Pilates chair has been found in numerous studies to help you rehabilitate from injury faster than other machines

So if your healing from injury, it’s worth considering. 

Combination Machines 

What is it? 

A Pilates combination machine is simply a machine that combines various elements of different Pilates machines- typically the reformer, Cadillac, and chair. 

It’s like when your two fave singers collab on a song- and bring together all the best features of their musical style. 

One of the most popular is the Pilates Cadillac reformer, which brings together the awesome performance of the reformer with the height and trapeze of the Cadillac. If owning one of these interests you, you should swing by our list of the best Pilates Cadillac Reformers for this year, to snag yours today. 

What exercises can I do on it? 

Combination machines are notoriously versatile because they allow you to do all the exercises which are more often associated with the reformer, Cadillac or Chair. 

For example, on a Pilates Cadillac reformer, you can both do hanging exercises associated with the trapeze, and rowing exercises associated with the reformer. They are a perfect choice for anyone seeking to experiment a lot with their exercise. 

Who Is It Best for?

Anyone who wants an extremely versatile and multifaceted Pilates machine. 

A combination machine is more complex than a regular Pilates machine, so it’s more recommended to experienced enjoyers of the exercise. 

The Ladder Barrel And Spine Corrector 

What is it? 

We’ve listed these two together as they are super similar. Because if you have a confessed addiction to back cracking, you may want a barrel or spine corrector. 

The ladder barrel looks like an empty beer keg, unsurprising considering it was inspired by one and features a wooden ladder and a padded barrel. The Spine corrector is just a smaller version of it, lacking the barrel. 

Fun fact: they are the only pieces of Pilates equipment without any springs! 

What exercises can I do on it?

The ladder barrel and spine corrector are ideal for stretching, realignment, and flexibility work- both have been designed for you to stretch over. 

So you can target and strengthen your abdominal and oblique muscles, strengthen your spine extensors and even get your hip and shoulder muscles moving. 

Who Is It Best for?

You will typically find a ladder barrel only in one-to-one Pilates sessions as it’s rarely used for group Pilates sessions. It’s perfect for private clients who struggle with a painful back. 

Both pieces of equipment are also significantly cheaper than a reformer, so if you want something stationary that will improve your spinal health they are worth considering.

The Megaformer 

What is it? 

Yes, Lagree is not Pilates, and yes, the Megaformer and reformer have many substantial differences. However, the Megaformer is directly inspired by the reformer and sold to its users as a ‘step up’ from the reformer and Pilates. 

So, so many Lagree lovers were former Pilates enthusiasts who wanted something a bit more intense. And in our eyes, this is reason enough to include this intimidating piece of equipment on this list, even if you’re supposed to do Lagree on it- which is basically ‘Pilates on steroids’.

To simplify- the Megaformer is the bigger, more advanced, more durable, and more expensive cousin of the reformer. 

What exercises can I do on it?

The Megaformer has been designed for the Lagree method which combines Pilates with low impact cardio. Moves like Sliding Reverse Lunge, a Side Lunge/Single Leg Squat, a Knee Tuck/'Bear' or Plank to Pike are staples.

However, you can do all the reformer moves you would do in regular Pilates on a Megaformer as well. 

Who Is It Best for?

People who enjoy Pilates, but want a more intensive, fat-burning workout that builds their core strength and builds and conditions their muscles to a greater intensity. 

If getting swole is your goal, the Megaformer might be something you may want to consider despite its equally mega price tag. A consideration you can weigh up against all these impressive options when it comes to your choice of exercise equipment! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed your journey with us through the world of Pilates equipment, and that this has helped you get in touch with your unique exercise needs and how they may be best served by your choice of equipment. 

If after reading this you’re desperate to make your dream purchase of a Cadillac, reformer, or chair, quickly head on over to our website, Pilates Reformers Plus, to explore all of our expansive equipment range and more.


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