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I’ve heard of Reformer Pilates – what is it and how is it different to mat pilates?

The Pilates Reformer is a traditional piece of Pilates equipment which looks like a bed with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys. The origins of the Reformer date back to WW1 when Joseph Pilates used hospital beds for the rehabilitation of injured men.

There are lots of similarities between Mat and Reformer Pilates, but you get a lot more variation of exercises due to the design of using straps, a footbar and springs for resistance. Routines can be very intense or gentle depending on the results you wish to achieve. It’s great for rehabilitation and for pregnant ladies.

You can gain much more of the benefits of lengthening and strengthening of the muscles and ligaments, and also the feeling of engaging muscles that you can’t achieve so much to begin with in a mat workout. It can help to break down some of the Mat exercises and build up the strength required to do the Mat routines.


It’s not all about lying down on a moving carriage. There is a lot more emphasis on using the arms and legs and working in different positions. Kneeling, sitting, standing, even on the head when things get really advanced! More and more athletes are starting to use Reformers to help improve their overall performance in many different aspects: Core stabilisation (which is vital to any athlete), as well as muscle endurance, lactate tolerance, peripheral joint stability, muscle strength, balance, co-ordination and much more.

It’s not as scary as it looks. Honest!

Tania Le Couillard (Master Personal Coach and Pilates Instructor)