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How to Choose a Pilates Reformer for Home Use

It can be a hard decision to make. 

There are so many choices. 

There are so many opinions about the choices!

Deciding to invest in a Pilates Reformer for your home use can be intimidating, daunting, and pricey, so it’s important to be as informed as possible before making your choice.  Almost like dating, you should have some standards.  After all, you will be getting to know your lovely equipment quite intimately in your home or studio; it better be JUSSSSSSTTTTT RIGHT!

Rest assured, while there are several top manufacturers, the parts and functions of most Pilates reformers are similar. To help you to learn more about the many features and what to look for when buying a Pilates reformer for home use, here are some things to consider before hitting the BUY button on the perfect Pilates apparatus for your home studio… 


Space Needs

The average Pilates Reformer is 7 to 8 feet long and 2 to 2.5 feet wide, but as equipment is evolving and manufacturers are attempting to cater to the most body types possible, sizes can vary from these measurements. Pilates has exploded in the professional athlete arena and seeing as some athletes are almost 7 feet tall, manufacturers have had to build machines much longer than 7 feet.

You probably already have a space in mind where you envision yourself perfecting your Pilates practice and it’s probably longer than 8 feet and much wider than 2.5 feet wide.  However, you will need a space larger than those dimensions!  You will want to have enough space to walk completely around your reformer comfortably.  You will also want to have enough space, widthwise, that when lying on your back on the reformer, you have enough room to reach the arms out as wise as possible, like a T.  You will also want to have enough space for the legs, usually when the feet are in the straps, to extend out wide without touching anything.  Overall, having a Pilates practice space of about 11-12 feet long and 6-7 feet wide would be the most ideal space.

With that being said, having smaller dimensions than that are not a problem, but exercises may just need to be modified slightly to accommodate your space.  If working with a qualified and experienced instructor, whether virtually or in your home, he or she should be knowledgeable in how to modify exercises for you.

Hint: Place your new reformer on furniture sliders so that you can move it easily in the room.  Placing it on a room’s diagonal, especially in a room with small dimensions, may help create enough width that modifying exercises is not needed at all.  Then, you can just move to machine back to its home base when not in use, freeing up space in the room for other use.  BEWARE!  If utilizing the Jumpboard or performing jumping exercises, the machine must be removed from the furniture sliders so that the reformer does not shift during your practice.  Safety first!


Your Body

Reformers, just like humans, come in all sizes.  Before investing in a Pilates Reformer, measure yourself from the tip of your head to the base of your glutes. Use this length to choose a reformer with a carriage that will accommodate your entire torso when lying supine (on your back).  It should also have enough space wide that you can rest the arms along your side.  It might be good to also measure your arms from the tip of your shoulders to the tip of your middle finger that way you can ensure your hands or fingers to not hang off the Carriage when lying supine.  Clients over the height of 5’9’’ and under 5’4’’ should ensure that their Footbar and Gear Bar adjust to accommodate for their height during exercises such as Footwork.

Consider your bony prominences such as hip bones, knees, the back of the head, shoulder tips, and sitz bones (butt or sitting bones).  If being on a firm surface on these bony points is often uncomfortable, you will want to consider a reformer that has more padding on the Shoulder Blocks, the Carriage itself, and even on the foot bar to remain pain free and comfortable; you attention can then be focused completely on the exercise and form at hand.

You will also want to be honest and aware of any injuries or limitations you may have.  For example, if you have arthritis in your hands and wrists, you will want to choose a machine with parts that adjust easily.  You will also want to choose handles or straps that keep you pain free, but still in proper Pilates form.  Maybe you struggle with knee pain and deep flexion (bending) of the knees is unavailable.  You will want to consider a reformer that sits higher off the floor so you can access the machine without sacrificing the integrity of your knees. 


Reformer Accessories and Attachments

As time goes on, manufacturers are getting more creative in the types of accessories available for their reformers.  This is great, because it allows for more versatility in your practice, but it also allows more accommodations for exercise modifications. 

Pieces that you will want to make sure are included in your equipment investment include:

  1. The Box – placed either long ways or short ways on the reformer, this box is used for traditional exercises such as Pulling Straps, Backstroke, Tree, and Side Overs (side bends). The Box can also be used as an accessory on the mat or together with other pieces of Pilates equipment.
  2. Handles and Loops or Double Loops – You will need these for all arm exercises as well as many of the leg ones. The Double Loops have two separate loops, one for the hands (commonly called the Short Loops) and one for the feet (the Long Loops).  More traditional pieces of equipment, like the ones Joseph Pilates built, often have a set of handles for the hands and separate loops for the feet and the two are interchanged when needed for specific exercises. 
  3. Safety Foot Strap – This strap hangs under the gear bar and is used to secure the feet in Short Box exercises.

Pieces that you might want to add to mix up your practice and allow yourself access to more exercise, make sure your investment includes:

  1. Jumpboard or Rebounder – Using this accessory in place of the Footbar allows for jumping exercises. There are a variety of boards to choose from – wide, tall, trampoline style, cushioned, etc.
  2. Dowel Bar – Traditional exercises performed on the Short Box use the dowel in hands, but all of the exercises may also be done without one. Like the Box, the Dowel can be used for other exercises not performed on a reformer.
  3. Wedge – If you cannot lay flat on your back for any reason at all (pregnancy or vertigo for example), a Wedge may be placed atop the carriage which lays the body on an incline.
  4. The Tower –Also called a half-trapeze, this vertical unit can be added to the head end of most Reformers to create what we call a Reformer-Tower Unit. This allows you to perform exercises normally performed on the Cadillac Trapeze Table, without needing the space for one!  A Tower has eye hooks for spring attachments as well as a Push Through Bar.  A Reformer-Tower unit can be used as either alone or there are contemporary exercises incorporating the use of the reformer and tower together.  Stay tuned for our next blog post about Towers and Reformer-Tower Units!



Pilates Reformers come in many variations!  The frames are usually wood or aluminum.  There are many types of wood used for a beautiful look and high durability.  Most manufacturers produce both wood and metal frame reformers, while some focus only on one style. Some high-quality metal reformers are practically indestructible and often easier to move than wood-frame reformers. The high-performance synthetic leather used for most carriages today and the box can often be ordered in a variety of colors to suit your style.

How do you know which reformer style to pick?  Good news!  Their function will all be similar, so this one is totally up to what you find aesthetically pleasing.  Are you trying to match a room?  Do you have Pinterest inspiration for your home studio and want your reformer to be like that?  Are you planning to decorate and accessorize your home studio around the reformer?  The choice is yours and the possibilities are endless!



Another pieces of good news!  High-quality Pilates equipment manufacturers offer warranties for their products, usually from the time the equipment is shipped to you up until a certain time frame for the different components.  Every company will be different.  Even within a company pieces of equipment might have different warranties.  Most companies will display this info on their website or will gladly share it with you upon inquiry.

Intuition is a combination of the feelings deep inside of us as well as the experiences and knowledge that we use to analyze life, so hopefully these tips can help intuitively guide you to the right Pilates Reformer for you! 


Still not sure? 

The trained and highly knowledgeable staff at the Casa Pilates Equipment Showroom are here to help.  If you are local or visiting Florida, set up a consultation and come in to see and try the many different types of reformers and equipment firsthand!  If you aren’t able to come to the showroom, we are happy to provide a virtual consultation, showing you around and demonstrating how the equipment works. 

We take the time to get to know you and find out what your needs truly are, so you are investing in the right equipment for yourself and actually staying committed to using it!  We also offer virtual private lessons, so once you get your reformer set up in your home, you can maximize your workouts with the help of a qualified Pilates Instructor.  Let us help you on your Pilates journey!


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