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Get Up and Get Moving: Pilates Reformer Workouts

Choosing a workout routine that works for you can be the first challenge you need to overcome in your fitness journey!

Some choose high-intensity workouts, others take up jogging or running. But if you need a workout that benefits the entire body, Pilates is a great place to start.

Pilates focuses on building and developing dynamic balance as well as improving posture and balance. These exercises tend to be low impact and ideal for anyone who is older or struggling with chronic health issues and symptoms related to stroke.

The Pilates Reformer works alongside the Pilates exercises to help users get the best benefits.

Calories Burned When Using the Pilates Reformer

When the Pilates Reformer programs are introduced, the variety of exercises that can be accomplished is greatly increased.

This means that you can burn more calories and build muscles in a longer range of motion. These muscles, as they grow, will help you continue to burn calories even when you’re not working out.

Pilates Reformer was originally designed to help break down the matwork needed to be completed during a traditional routine.

Today it’s often used to help with rehabilitation as users can exercise in a horizontal plane rather than vertically loaded bearing weight through the legs.

By building these muscles, anyone who’s used the Pilates Reformer can burn calories more effectively. As the muscles grow and strengthen the body continues burning calories and then fat even when you’re not constantly on the mat.

Most Pilates classes will end up burning 175-254 calories per 50-minute class. This is all accomplished through a low impact workout that’s easily doable for anyone of any age.

Is Pilates Reformer a Good Workout?

Pilates itself is a great workout for any body type and any step in the health journey process.

Pilates Reformers were originally designed by the originator of Pilates in the 1920’s. The entire piece of equipment looks similar to a bed with springs, a sliding piece, and ropes and pulleys.

The reformer offers versatile and effective exercises for anyone who tries it out! It’s specially designed to take the pressure off of points that tend to have weakness like knees and ankles by laying the participant in a horizontal position.

The springs then provide resistance which can be varied to provide a tougher workout or an easier one.

The versatility makes it an excellent option for anyone who wants to use it. It can easily be adapted for anyone who needs more delicate care or anyone who wants a more intense workout.

balanced body Rialto Pilates Reformer, Pilates Equipment for Home Workouts balanced body Rialto Pilates Reformer, Pilates Equipment for Home Workouts

This Studio Reformer grows with your Pilates program. The Rialto packs all the necessary professional-grade features in an eye-catching design.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

The Best Pilates Reformer Workouts

When you find yourself faced with a new piece of workout equipment it can be hard to come up with a whole workout regime at the drop of a hat.

Instead of going into the gym without a plan, construct some exercises that target the areas where you want to build muscle so you can tackle your health goals in no time with the Pilates Reformer!

Leg Circles

These are simple rotating exercises that work the lower body when using the Reformer. Your legs are rotated in an outward direction from your hips.

The metal clips of the Reformer should always be on the outside of the bands and the headrest should be at an upward position.

Start with the legs against each other in an upward position. If you’re just a beginner or need help getting started, begin with your legs at a 45-degree angle.

Exhale while your legs are brought up and while they come together then inhale during the opening sweep motion. Repeat this for each repetition of the exercise.

Stomach Massage

This exercise focuses on the abdominal muscles and is achieved by being seated in a C-curved position on the Reformer carriage. Utilize non-slip padding to improve your stability while seated and keep the headrest up while going through this exercise.

Start in a Pilates V position for the feet with lifted heels and go through eight reps before resting.

Alternate this exercise with Stomach Massage Arms Back exercise to achieve the best benefits when engaging your abs. This stomach massage exercise can be performed with a round back.

Short Box

There are three different forms to this exercise: round back, flat back, and flat back with a pole.

During any of these exercises, the feet need to be flexed to achieve the maximum effect during the workout.

If you need extra stability you can utilize straps to keep your feet in place. Go through five reps of this exercise before resting.

For the round back version of the short box, you’ll start in a C-curve seated position. For the flat back option, the client’s torso will need to remain in perfect alignment with the pelvis. Do not arch the back during any of this movement.

To achieve the final form you can use a pole to help assist in keeping the flat back short box workout going along the way it needs to be performed.

Knee Stretches

As with most exercises on the Pilates Reformer, there are several different versions of the exercise that you can perform. The two different knee stretches are the round back and arch back versions.

This serves as a hip workout that opens and closes the pelvis area and the workout focuses on the abdominal muscles during these knee stretch exercises.

Start with round back knee stretches when you’re beginning the routine and progress to the arch back knee stretches. Use two springs with the headrest and footrest up and go through eight reps per session before resting.

AeroPilates Premier Reformer AeroPilates Premier Reformer

Low impact Free-Form Cardio Rebounder is gentle on your joints, comes with DVD video workouts and exercise wall chart

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Bottom Lift

This exercise works the glutes and lowers back while also improving strength in the legs.

You’ll work your whole core and lower body with this exercise and it can be easily adapted to fit beginners or more advanced students.

When starting this exercise, keep the footrest and headrest up and use four springs throughout the time.

Focus on doing the lift from the hips and not the knees but don’t lift the pelvis much from the carriage. Keep your spine in a natural position throughout the rep and do five reps for beginners and eight for more advanced users before taking a rest.


This exercise will end up working for several muscle groups through the use of two springs. Keep the footbar and headrest in an upward position throughout.

With each of the eight reps, the carriage should be moved and it will move inward and outward.

This movement focuses on hinging the hips and lifting the abs with every repetition. As the carriage comes inward, be sure to exhale.

Footwork Exercises

One of the best benefits of the Reformer is that it can take the pressure off knees and ankles so you can do more advanced exercises without stressing those joins. The movement associated with the footwork exercises is similar to a squat but is done on the back.

Keep the back flat during this exercise with both feet on the foot bar. Keep the abs engaged and the spine in a neutral position throughout the exercise with the backs of the arms pressed toward the mat.

There are several versions of the footwork exercise that can be done on the Reformer.

You can keep your heels pressed together or set to a lower lift to start.

The Bird on a Perch keeps the legs placed together while the Pilates V has the heels lifted and the knees at maximum shoulder-width apart.

How to Choose the Right Pilates Reformer

If you’re serious about working out with a Pilates Reformer you’ll probably start looking for one that will work with your at-home gym or fit in your house.

Keep in mind that this will be a serious investment and not something that will come easily nor necessarily cheaply.

Some Reformers on the market will only be priced around a few hundred dollars. These may seem like tempting options but these are often poorly made and won’t be worth the time or money.

When looking for the right Pilates Reformer for your home gym you’ll probably end up investing between $3,000 and $6,500 for quality equipment.

If you’re just building your home gym this can seem like a serious investment but when you consider the fact that a Reformer can help you perform 200 or more exercises, it’s a high-value investment!

There are a few things you want to look for in any Pilates Reformer including the frame, springs, and straps.

Merrithew at Home SPX Reformer Bundle Merrithew at Home SPX Reformer Bundle

Home Pilates reformer package for increasing core strength, flexibility, mobility, and endurance. Optional Mat Converter allows for Matwork exercises on a comfortable, raised surface

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
02/19/2024 02:44 am GMT

Reformer Frame

This is the heart and soul of the machine! Every frame has wheels on the inside that will hold the carriage and carry participants as they move with the exercise. One end of the frame will have a foot bar that will be adjustable to fit the participant’s height.

On the other end will be adjustable springs that can help dictate different levels of resistance for different levels of activity.

Reformer Springs

Springs are adjustable in more advanced models and allow you to choose your resistance which makes exercises harder or easier to perform. The resistance will allow trainers or participants to set their specific levels so they can grow and change throughout the time they work with the Pilates Reformer.

Reformer Straps

Opposite the foot bar on the side of the Reformer, there’s a strap or loops that can be used to pull the carriage when performing the exercise. Be sure that each of these straps and loops is made with high-quality materials and will stand the test of plenty of reps and exercises throughout the Reformer’s life.

There are dozens of other accessories that can be added or you can buy with your Reformer to upgrade your experience. Depending on the exercise and workout regimen you want to go through, you may need to add more accessories.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
02/19/2024 03:04 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Before investing thousands of dollars on a Pilates Reformer, there are several questions you want to have answered.

Can I Do Reformer Pilates at Home?

For many, Pilates and Reformer Pilates are exercises that happen at a gym or with a trainer. Pilates Reformer equipment is expensive and many people don’t want to shell out the money to have one at home.

You can purchase the equipment and have it in your home gym or your house. If you have a structured workout and you take Pilates seriously, having a Reformer at home can be highly convenient.

Can You Lose Weight Doing Pilates Reformer?

Reformer Pilates is designed to help build and enhance the tone of your muscles. This muscle then more actively and adequately burns calories. 

While Pilates Reformer workouts may not help you shed pounds as fast as other types of routines, the long-term effects of building up and toning muscle will help you burn calories even when not working out.

Is it Okay to do Pilates Reformer Every day?

Beginners should always start slow and work up to a more intense workout routine. This allows your body to adjust to the strain of building muscle.

Pilates and Pilates Reformer workouts are considered safe for anyone but are sure to adjust the intensity and resistance to match your overall level of health.

balanced body Rialto Pilates Reformer, Pilates Equipment for Home Workouts balanced body Rialto Pilates Reformer, Pilates Equipment for Home Workouts

This Studio Reformer grows with your Pilates program. The Rialto packs all the necessary professional-grade features in an eye-catching design.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

What is the Best Pilates Reformer for Home?

Some of the best Pilates reformers based on price, design, and overall quality include:

  • AeroPilates Premier Reformer
  • Balanced Body Rialto Reformer
  • Balanced Body Allegro 2 Reformer
  • Merrithew At Home SPX Reformer
  • Balanced Body Allegro Stretch Reformer

Each of these will work well in your home gym and helps you build muscle and burn calories with just a few workouts each week!

Short Pilates sessions will still give you great benefits and most people keep their sessions between 10 and 20 minutes each week.

How Soon Can You See Results from Reformer Pilates?

With 20 minute sessions three times a week, most people will start to feel better before they start to see major differences in their physical appearance.

With several factors in play, by 20 sessions with Reformer Pilates, participants will begin to see improvements in appearance. Extremely noticeable differences in body shape start to appear by the 30th session or 10 to 12 weeks into training.


Buying a Pilates Reformer is an investment for your home or home gym.

The exercises work for nearly every body type and level of exercise and results are visible in just a few weeks!

Even participants who can no longer do highly strenuous activities like squats or lifts can participate and exercise with the Pilates Reformer.

Build muscle and teach your body to burn calories in no time!

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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

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