How to Choose a Pilates Reformer in 8 Steps
Posted By: Pamela Toy
After much consideration, you have decided to purchase a Pilates Reformer.
Now you open up your browser and start searching for reformers online. However, there are so many different types of reformers and brands.
Where do you even start?
You should look for several things when picking a machine for your needs. Reformers are pretty expensive and you want to ensure the purchase is worth it.
In this post, we are going to break down how to choose a reformer in the following 8 steps:
Understanding what your personal needs are is the first step to picking a reformer.
If you are an aspiring pilates instructor, then you will probably want to get a Studio-grade reformer that is adjustable and has a lot of different attachments.
Additionally, if you have health issues or a limited range of motion, you may want to pick a Reformer that is very adjustable as well.
If you are an intermediate to advanced practitioner, having more accessories and attachments will allow you to make your workouts more robust and engaging.
However, if you are a less experienced practitioner, are on a tighter budget and are just looking for a good Pilates workout at home, you may not need all the accessories (we will get into this later).
As mentioned in the previous step, having a Reformer that is adjustable is very important especially if you are an aspiring instructor or have a limited range of motion.
Here are the following components that should be adjustable:
Head and Shoulder Rest
The Head and shoulder rest supports the back, neck and shoulders. They should be comfortable and provide maximum stability. For people with neck or back injuries, having an adjustable head and shoulder rest is very important.
The foot bar initiates spring resistance at the start of an exercise. The more adjustable the foot bar is, the more it can adjust to different body sizes and also to different ranges of motion. If you are fairly inflexible or had knee surgery/injuries, having an adjustable foot bar can provide you with the correct angle/support.
After you have determined what your needs are, you will likely need to determine how much you are willing to spend on a Reformer.
We recently broke down the cost in this post, but Reformers can go anywhere from $400 – $8k (higher end). While that is a fairly wide range, it’s worth noting that the higher the price, the higher the quality of the reformer, and the more features and accessories are usually available.
If you are an aspiring instructor, you will likely want to have a Reformer that is high quality with at least some accessories. However, you may not need the Bundle Reformers with every attachment available. These reformers can go from anywhere between $1-5k.
Before pulling the trigger to purchase a Reformer, you need to understand how much space is readily available in your house/apartment/studio.
Reformers on average range from about 80 to 100 inches long and are roughly 20 to 30 inches wide.
Please measure your space beforehand.
There are also Reformers that are foldable, which may be a good option if you have limited space or need to utilize your space for other activities.
Having a frame that is of the highest quality is really important.
Some frames are made of wood and others are made of metal, so do your research before pressing the buy button.
A Reformer may be less expensive with a lot of the same features, but if the Frame is not good, then you will be unable to use your reformer for a long period of time. It’s worth checking out reviews to make sure others didn’t have any issues beforehand!
Some Reformers utilize cords for their resistance system, however, it is highly recommended to find a reformer with springs. Springs are more robust and are usually a trait of a higher quality reformer.
You should also check to see how “heavy” the springs are and how many are available with the reformer.
Most reformers will have 4-5 springs available with varying degrees of difficulty.
If you are an aspiring instructor, you should probably look for a machine with more springs as it will allow you to adjust to many different body types and skill levels.
For example, if your reformer only has 3 springs, with medium to heavy levels of resistance, you will be unable to work with seniors or people who aren’t very strong.
Also, if your clients have injuries they probably won’t be able to go as heavy, so having more springs will provide a better workout.
In contrast, if your springs aren’t super heavy, then people who are bigger and stronger won’t be able to get the best workout due to the springs maxing out.
The more springs you have the better, but if the reformer that fits your needs/budget only has a few springs available, make sure they provide the right resistance level.
Many Reformers come with a variety of different accessories that can enhance your workouts.
Here are the most popular accessories:
Pilates Dvds can be helpful as they can introduce you to a variety of exercises led by a professional instructor. If you are a relatively new student or like following along with workouts, then Dvds can be really useful.
The Jumpboard is a firm, padded jumping surface that allows for sound foot placement for aerobic and plyometric workouts. It can help to expand your repertoire as it will train your core, and lower body when used on the Reformer.
The Cardio Rebounder provides a landing surface for rebounding activities. This increases your workout potential turning your reformer into a heart-pumping cardiovascular machine.
The Vertical Frame/Tower provides multiple spring attachments facilitating increased programming as the travel pulleys provide different angles of resistance. This allows you to perform three-dimensional motions.
Also, some vertical towers/frames have arm attachments, which allow you to work your upper body on the reformer.
The Reformer Box assists with optimal sitting positions allowing for a greater range of motion when working your upper body, torso and legs. There are also additional exercises specific to the box. If you are an aspiring instructor, the box is definitely an accessory you want to have.
Adjustable foot straps allow you to anchor your feet for exercises using the Reformer Box. This can make your workouts tougher and more engaging.
Some Reformers have a mat converter, which allows you to turn your machine into an elevated mat surface. This can be great if you are already tight on space as you can do your mat workouts right on your reformer!
These are a few accessories that reformers may include. However, many of these items can be bought separately, so if you plan to purchase the accessories separately, make sure that your reformer is compatible before purchase.
Last but not least, you should make sure your Reformer has a warranty. Most Reformers offer a warranty for 6-12 months. It would be very disappointing to spend a lot of money on a reformer only for it to break after a few uses, so please make sure you are covered!
Choosing the right Reformer depends on your needs, space and budget, so please review each step in depth before pulling the trigger. Reformers are not cheap, so you should have a machine that you are going to use!