While Pilates has been around for just over one hundred years now it’s hard not to be curious about the craze if you aren’t already familiar with it.
It’s no wonder the fitness approach has withstood the test of time when considering the benefits along with the fun and unique training methods involved.
To say pilates is a core workout would be a gross understatement. It targets the ‘core’ in the traditional sense yet goes far beyond only working the abdominal muscles.
Through a series of precise and controlled movements, you’re sure to feel the effects through the inner and outer thighs, hips, abdominals, and back.
What is a Pilates Reformer?
What makes pilates so unique is the use of what’s known as a pilates reformer.
This is the primary piece of equipment used in Reformer Pilates and is also what makes it so much fun.
Comprising a frame holding a carriage that slides back and forth, the movement of a Pilates reformer is similar to a rowing machine.
With the use of the carriage along with body weight, gravity, and built-in resistance, a pilates reformer gives a fitness experience unlike any other and a sensation that is comparable to gliding or flying during their workout.
Although it may sound purely fun, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of these machines and their ability to target various muscle groups. You’ll feel it the next day.
Why are Pilates Reformers so Awesome?
The focus on strengthening the body’s trunk is what has made pilates notorious for vast increases in balance, mobility, functionality, and flexibility.
Great to Learn and Improve Yoga
These benefits appeal to such a vast range of individuals making Reformer Pilates an excellent fitness approach for just about anybody.
Athletes love increased flexibility, fitness enthusiasts often use reformers to tone muscle and increase strength, while Yoga practitioners find it a fun and challenging progression.
The low impact design is also great for those who may have predisposed limitations, previous injuries, and for the elderly.
Reduces Injury in Older Athletes
A study performed in 2017 truly highlighted some of these benefits for older adults and Reformer Pilates’ ability to reduce fall risks and injury.
Subjects participating in as little as one pilates session per week were shown to have significant improvements in static and dynamic balance, and functional mobility. This greatly reduced the risk of falling and possible injury.
In this article, we will take a look at the best home pilates reformers on the market and also help our readers understand what to consider when buying a pilates reformer.
How do I choose a pilates reformer for my home?
There are various factors to consider when looking for the best Pilates reformer.
With a vast range available it’s important to narrow down the options and look at the different features that will help users get the most out of their investment.
Here are just a few things to consider when searching for the pilates reformer for your home gym.
One of the first things buyers will need to establish is the purpose of the pilates reformer.
Although Pilates is great for achieving a toned and balanced physique, the best pilates reformer is used for various other goals.
Rehabilitation, mobility, flexibility, injury prevention, and functionality are among the most sought after results.
The best pilates reformers may excel more in certain areas than others so be sure to establish goals and the intended use of the machine.
When choosing the size of a pilates reformer buyers will want to consider a few factors. The frame and carriage will need to be the appropriate size to accommodate the user(s).
Most models will have an adjustable foot bar at one end however some models provide more adjustability than others in the foot bar and other aspects of the machine. If multiple people will be using the reformer this may be an important feature to look for.
Although your ideal and best pilates reformer can range in size, most that are worth the investment are not small.
It’s important to make sure the chosen reformer will fit in the space you have available at home.
Also, should the reformer need to be moved it’s worth considering the ease at which this can be done.
Pilates reformers are constructed using various materials from wood, aluminum, and even steel.
Regardless of the material the best pilates reformers should withstand use for years to come but be sure it’s well built and not manufactured from a cheap alternative.
An important aspect of each reformer is the resistance provided by the machine.
This is done using a series of springs or bungee-like cords. These should be manufactured using a heavy-duty material as they are constantly extending and contracting.
Along with the previously mentioned adjustable foot bar, there are also other options such as being able to adjust the resistance.
Some models offer the ability to increase the tension on the springs allowing users to adjust the amount of resistance provided as they progress and become stronger.
Some models even offer adaptations to focus on rehabilitation or even pre/postnatal care which is a strong attraction for many people.
Many of the best pilates reformers introduce the use of shoulder blocks on the carriage. This can help to provide more comfort and increased body stability when performing certain movements.
Others go a step further and also incorporate a headrest for an improved experience.
Accessories and Upgrades
For beginners, it is unlikely that you will need more than the basics provided with most pilates reformers to start. However, as users begin to progress there are various upgrades you can make to your Pilates reformer.
With the addition of towers, jumping boards, spine correctors, mat systems, and more you can open up a whole new world of exercises and progressions. If the use of such additions is appealing be sure to check if the reformer can accommodate any upgrades.
If you don’t already know you may be asking yourself- How much are pilates reformer machines?
The short answer is not cheap, as models have price tags ranging from $500 to about $8000.
But with a little bit of research and help from this article, it’s easy to find the best pilates reformer for you, at a relatively affordable price.
If you have the money to spare it’s well worth the investment considering the benefits and longevity of at-home pilates reformers.
Add to that the cost of a private session tends to range anywhere from $50-$150, for those who practice Pilates regularly, a reformer will save a fair amount of money in the long term.
Our Best Pilates Reformer Top Picks
Now we move on to the good stuff, the best pilates reformers of 2021.
For our top picks in Pilates reformers, we have aimed to provide our readers with various options while taking into consideration budget, effectiveness, versatility, and of course quality.
Low impact Free-Form Cardio Rebounder is gentle on your joints, comes with DVD video workouts and exercise wall chart
Aeropilates has managed to create an affordable, lightweight, yet still very effective alternative to many reformers on the market with the release of the Aeropilates Premier Reformer.
This reformer, like so many, focuses on building strength and improving flexibility but with a unique twist.
With the addition of what’s referred to as the Aeropilates Rebounder, the reformer allows users to add cardiovascular exercises into their routine.
The rebounder is a small trampoline-like attachment at one end of the frame which, when used along with the resistance bands, creates a low impact, highly effective, cardio option for certain exercises.
For the resistance provided by the reformer, Aeropilates opted to use four resistance cords rather than springs.
The cords attach to adjustable pulley risers secured to the frame. This makes for a quick and easy transition when switching the configuration for various movements.
The frame is constructed from steel which makes this a rugged and durable reformer, sure to withstand years of use.
Another aspect Aeropilates have added to the frame is the ability to adjust the height by up to 10 inches. Having such an adjustment feature is excellent when moving on to more advanced exercises.
Another great feature of this reformer is that the carriage and mat have integrated shoulder blocks with a head and neck rest to boot. This provides added comfort and support which can be key when focusing on breath and controlled movements.
Lastly, for those that may be concerned about space and storage, the Aeropilates Reformer is worth a look.
Not only is the reformer relatively lightweight, allowing owners to lean it against a wall or move it to the side, but after removing a couple of pins the reformer folds and reduces to nearly half the size.
- 3-year warranty on frame, 90 days on parts
- Included DVD with various exercises including the use of the Rebounder
- Dimensions assembled: 86.25″ L x 20″ W x 14″ H inches
- Dimensions folded: 44″ inch L x 20″ inch W x 9″ inch H
- Maximum user weight of 300 lb
This Studio Reformer grows with your Pilates program. The Rialto packs all the necessary professional-grade features in an eye-catching design.
The Rialto Reformer by Balanced Body offers a professional-grade design in regards to quality and aesthetics.
The combination of classic maple and powder-coated aluminum provides unmatched stability and an elegance that is sure to compliment your home.
Balanced Body has integrated the carriage into the frame seamlessly for quiet and smooth performance. It will feel like you’re at the local pilates studio given the exceptional design of the Rialto Reformer.
Not only has Balanced Body emphasized the performance of this reformer but it was also designed with comfort and versatility in mind.
Including various supports, adjustability, and available upgrades, it is a great option for households with multiple pilates practitioners or individuals who want to be able to progress and add variation to their routines.
The frame is constructed from maple that is fortified with powder-coated aluminum. The combination of materials gives the reformer an extremely high level of durability and resilience during constant use.
This does result in a relatively heavy frame which can be difficult to move however users are unlikely to mind given its contemporary appearance.
Resistance is provided with the use of 5 springs that vary in tension. Included with the Rialto reformer is 3 red springs with regular tension, 1 blue spring with light tension, and 1 green spring with heavy tension.
The various springs in conjunction with an adjustable spring bar attachment make setting resistance to the desired level an absolute breeze.
The adjustment options don’t end there. At the end of the frame you will find a nice wide foot bar that has 5 different positions to accommodate various users.
The foot bar can even be lowered out of sight which reveals a standing platform on the frame. This feature again allows for even more movements and exercises that would otherwise require additional equipment.
In regards to the carriage, Balanced Body boasts what they refer to as an ultra-cushioned, over-molded design. While it may sound like a gimmick, user reviews swear by the added comfort.
The carriage also incorporates shoulder blocks that can be adjusted in width or even removed if necessary.
If that isn’t enough buyers have the option of multiple upgrades that can be purchased alongside the Balanced Body reformer or added on at any time.
The available upgrades include a tower with additional carriage pads, a jumping board, and plank bars with handles. All of which can be easily installed.
- Sitting Box Lite and Footstrap included
- Standard 14” height
- All equipment includes access to the videos section of the Balanced Body streaming platform
- 5-year Limited Warranty
Allegro 2 Reformer
Given the reputation Balanced Body has within the Pilates industry it’s no wonder why we find another one of their products in our top picks for at home Pilates Reformers.
Although the Allegro 2 reformer was built to withstand the demands of commercial fitness it is perfect for home use as well.
The Balanced Body Allegro 2 reformer was engineered to progress alongside the user as needed.
It arrives with everything needed to get started and, as skill level and experience increase, the Allegro 2 can adapt to continue the journey on to more advanced movements.
Unlike its wooden counterpart, the Allegro 2 is constructed primarily of powder-coated aluminum with subtle maple accents which continues the eye-pleasing design that Balanced Body is known for.
There is also the option of adding a leg and wheel kit to the frame. The leg kit raises the height of the reformer, expanding exercise capabilities, while the wheel kit makes the reformer easily moveable for home use.
For storage purposes, Balanced Body has designed the Allegro 2 so it can stack and be stored on end for those with limited space in their household.
Another aspect of this reformer that is unique is the foot bar. Not only does it have multiple adjustment points to alter the angle of the bar but it can also slide to different points along the frame.
The foot bar can easily move and be secured anywhere from the foot base to the pulley risers on the other end.
This feature makes the reformer easily adapted to users of any size but also provides an abundance of new possibilities when it comes to exercises.
The ropes are quickly and easily adjusted in length by simply raising a lever under the headrest, automatically tightening any slack in the lines.
The shoulder blocks can be set to narrow or wide in just seconds. And lastly, the carriage has an adjustable headrest.
All of these settings can be achieved quickly and easily and are all accessible from a supine position to avoid interruptions in Pilates routines.
The carriage is attached to the frame by the use of 5 springs similar to most Balanced Body products. The 5 springs vary in tension from light, medium, to heavy which again allows many options in regards to the difficulty of movement.
The springs have an additional set of attachment points further from the carriage to preload the springs if users would like a challenge.
As with many Balanced Body products buyers have the option of additional items and upgrades for the Allegro 2. This includes a jumping board, sitting box, foot strap, tower, and more.
- All equipment includes access to the videos section of the Balanced Body streaming platform
- Limited 10-year Warranty
- Standard 8” height
- Extremely smooth and silent operation
Stotts At Home SPX Reformer
Home Pilates reformer package for increasing core strength, flexibility, mobility, and endurance. Optional Mat Converter allows for Matwork exercises on a comfortable, raised surface
Merrithew prides itself on delivering some of the best Pilates reformers available and the Stotts At Home SPX Reformer is no exception. The SPX Reformer bundle is an excellent option for those searching for an all-inclusive package.
The frame is constructed from aluminum with wooden accents, and the materials used for the carriage are a highly durable vinyl with EVA foam.
This Pilates reformer was designed to withstand continuous use during high-intensity exercise and it does not disappoint.
One aspect of the Merrithew At Home SPX Reformer that we love is the fact that it was designed to be easily adapted for the use of rehabilitation as well as pre/postnatal exercises.
Along with all of the possible adjustments these features make it one of the most versatile pilates reformers on the market.
Incorporated into the frame is a 4 position foot bar, wooden standing platform, and rugged pulley risers. Merrithew designed this home reformer with the household in mind so adjustability is not lacking.
The Home SPX Reformer offers 3 gear bar positions, 6 carriage stopping positions, and 3 headrest positions.
The carriage is crafted for exceptional comfort and offers increased stability with shoulder blocks that have built-in handholds.
Not only is it comfortable but the track in conjunction with the included spring covers makes this Merrithew reformer a contender for one of the smoothest and quietest machines available.
The carriage is used with the included 5 resistance springs. 4 springs with 100% tension and 1 spring with 50% tension.
When used in combination with the adjustable gear bar users have the option of three different levels of resistance.
All of these features are fantastic additions but when one considers the rest of the Home SPX Reformer bundle it begins to stand out.
In addition to the reformer, buyers will receive a reformer box and foot strap, padded platform extender, metal roll-up pole, double loop straps, neoprene spring covers, reformer workout DVD, Essential Reformer DVD, and a quick reference pilates poster.
- Limited Lifetime warranty
- Multiple workout DVD’s included
- Wheels built in to frame for portability
- Standard 10” height
Pilates Reformer Exercises
To list all of the Pilates reformer exercises possible we would need another article to truly cover the motions and benefits. And that’s only to speak of the capabilities of the reformer.
When you begin to consider the variety provided with the addition of tools such as sitting boxes, towers, yoga blocks, and more, the possibilities are endless.
As you may have already figured out, the use of a Pilates Reformer is phenomenal for developing the body’s trunk. This includes the abs, back, hips, and glutes which are essential for functionality and quality of life.
Much of this is achieved through motions similar to that of squats, crunches, hip hinges, thrusts, and more.
As reformer practitioners begin to progress the benefits are not limited to that of mobility and flexibility but can include factors such as toning muscle, cardiovascular improvement, building strength, improving balance, and even relieving pain.
In fact, a 2014 study researched the effectiveness of Reformer Pilates for relieving chronic back pain in individuals. The study found that there were significant improvements in regards to pain and functional ability for those who practiced reformer pilates and found the exercises to be exceptionally beneficial in the short term.
For those who are unfamiliar with basic reformer Pilates exercises we highly recommend attending a class for guidance. But following initial training, it’s easy to make the switch to video-guided routines, virtual courses, or eventually your very own program.
As with any fitness approach once you have a solid base to grow upon its easily adapted to personal preference and desired results.
Is it worth buying a Pilates reformer?
The answer to this question is truly down to the individual.
The benefits provided by a Pilates reformer are undeniable so it’s a matter of lifestyle and preference.
For those that have the option of installing a home Pilates reformer, practice Pilates regularly, and are passionate about fitness and general health, in our opinion the answer is absolutely yes, it is worth it. It’s easy to see that the advantages far outweigh the cost of the initial investment.
Add to this that the best Pilates reformers will last for years on end and it’s a no-brainer.
Others that are already hooked on Pilates but don’t practice very often may be hesitant to make the purchase and rightfully so.
In this case, consider if adding an at-home Pilates reformer will allow you to pursue your passion more often as the convenience is apparent.
And lastly, for those who have not yet tried Pilates, the question becomes- what are you waiting for?
We are confident you will enjoy the experience and you will be able to see firsthand what all the fuss is about.
Then it won’t be a question of whether or not you want an at-home Pilates reformer but you will more likely be researching who has the fastest delivery.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost