Reformer vs. Mat Pilates: Which Is Right for You?

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Pilates may call to mind a number of various things, together with sliding machines in trendy studios or an at-home workout with a mat. This full-body workout can seem like each—however one methodology is called reformer Pilates, whereas the opposite is called mat Pilates.

When you’re uncertain concerning the distinction between reformer Pilates and mat Pilates, first know that consultants say each will profit your well being.

Typically, Pilates applications had been related to diminished systolic, diastolic, and imply blood stress in sufferers with hypertension, per a February 2024 examine within the Journal of Human Hypertension

The benefits of Pilates additionally embrace ache reduction, core power, and higher posture, flexibility, stability, breath management, and psychological well being, in accordance with the Cleveland Clinic.

Right here’s what to know concerning the distinction between reformer vs. mat Pilates—and the way to decide on the best choice for you.

What’s reformer Pilates?

Once you think about Pilates finished in a studio with machines, that is doubtless what you’re considering of.

Reformer Pilates makes use of the Pilates reformer machine, which includes a carriage that strikes up and down a set of rails, hand and foot straps that work just like a lat pulldown machine, and options like footbars and jumpboards that can assist you range your motion.

Though reformer courses usually happen within the studio, at-home utilization has risen considerably after the pandemic. Practically one fifth of respondents in a Pilates Anytime survey reported buying reformers throughout the pandemic.

Smaller, at-home reformers can run a number of hundred {dollars}, whereas these present in studios can run within the 1000’s.

“I wouldn’t suggest having one at residence until you’ve expertise with it and are being instructed by an expert, both in-person or on-line,” says Vanessa Johnson, NCPT, director of teacher coaching at Club Pilates.

What’s mat Pilates?

Sometimes finished at residence or within the studio, mat Pilates is carried out on a thick mat, typically with props like a foam roller or hand weights.

This observe emphasizes working along with your physique weight. Like reformer Pilates, it is a low-impact exercise that’s light in your joints.

“Mat Pilates can be extremely grounding, as a result of it’s simply you and your mat,” says Bianca Wise, an accredited Pilates teacher at Alo Moves. “You are in a position to develop into extra in contact along with your physique, the best way it strikes, and your stability.”

This type of Pilates requires you to align your self utilizing your personal physique, or as Joseph Pilates (the founding father of Pilates) would name it, your “powerhouse” or core.

“Pilates is for anybody eager to strengthen their physique for longevity, align their backbone for higher posture, and strengthen their core for higher every day actions.” —Bianca Smart, Pilates teacher

What are the advantages of reformer Pilates?

There are two colleges of thought in the case of the advantages of reformer Pilates. One is that it may well present a extra dynamic exercise than mat Pilates: You may modify to the spring pressure of the carriage to both intensify a motion or add help to make it simpler.

“Reformers are adjustable, so that every one kinds of our bodies can expertise the strikes in a manner that’s finest for them,” Johnson says. “The reformer has the potential of turning the quantity manner up on a few of the unique mat strikes.”

Nonetheless, one other argument is that reformer Pilates can act as a stepping stone to mat Pilates.

“Joseph Pilates created the reformer as an equipment that may align the physique for you,” Smart says. “Ideally, you get sturdy sufficient on the reformer that you are able to do all the identical workout routines with out the ‘assist’ of the equipment.”

No matter which college of thought you subscribe to, reformer Pilates has the perks of offering a variety of actions which are low-impact and gained’t stress your joints. This will add selection to your exercises in case you’re liable to becoming bored simply.

What are the advantages of mat Pilates?

Mat Pilates gives extra accessibility than reformer Pilates by way of location and funds.

“You are able to do it wherever and all over the place, with and with out gear,” Smart says. “It is also extremely secure for all ranges, all our bodies, and all ages.”

When you have a very busy schedule and might’t decide to spending time at a studio—otherwise you don’t need to buy gear on your residence —mat Pilates could also be a greater possibility than reformer Pilates.

Each kinds of Pilates promote elevated stability and stability, better posture, a stronger core, mind-body connection, breath connection, improvement of stabilizer muscle groups, and joint and harm prevention, Smart provides.

How to decide on between reformer or mat Pilates

When selecting which kind of Pilates to do, think about your health degree and what you are feeling most snug beginning with.

“Anybody new to Pilates might really feel most snug beginning on the mat, because it’s a type they might have skilled in different health modalities,” Smart says.

That mentioned, sure teams might profit from the resistance coaching concerned with reformer Pilates.

“Working with the springs means we’re working in opposition to or with resistance, so we’re loading our bones,” Smart says. “That is extraordinarily necessary for girls, particularly as we become older, to assist enhance and preserve our bone density.”

When you can’t make it to a studio, additionally think about in case you have the area (and funds) for reformer Pilates.

“Some reformers are in a position to fold up and go below a mattress, however the common area wanted can be at the least eight toes lengthy and 4 toes broad,” Johnson says. “It’s a good suggestion to have a mirror adjoining to at the least one finish of the reformer to verify your type.”

Additionally think about any accidents that will make one type of Pilates tougher. For example, if it’s painful so that you can be in your knees or troublesome to get on and off the bottom, you may desire a reformer machine over mat Pilates. In both case, it’s finest to work with an expert.

“If somebody has any accidents, issues of safety, or well being situations, they need to begin with a non-public session with a comprehensively skilled Pilates teacher,” Johnson says. “Based mostly on the situation, the teacher will assist them decide what’s finest for his or her physique.”

On the finish of the day, selecting between mat Pilates and reformer Pilates is a private selection. Whichever one you select, you’ll nonetheless get pleasure from the advantages related to Pilates.

“Pilates is for anybody eager to strengthen their physique for longevity, align their backbone for higher posture, and strengthen their core for higher every day actions,” Smart says.


Effectively+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, current, sturdy research to again up the data we share. You may belief us alongside your wellness journey.


  1. González-Devesa D, Varela S, Diz-Gómez JC, Ayán-Pérez C. The efficacy of Pilates methodology in sufferers with hypertension: systematic evaluate and meta-analysis. J Hum Hypertens. 2024 Feb 15. doi: 10.1038/s41371-024-00899-1. Epub forward of print. PMID: 38361026.


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