Best Pilates Reformers Reviewed & Rated for Quality
You’ve used them in the studio and seen them in the gym, now you are ready to make one your own. Those large awkward looking machines are known as reformers. You can sit, lay, kneel, stand, you can use them in many positions and get a multitude of health and fitness benefits. This is not a new trendy type of fitness, believe it or not, these machines have been around since the 1900s. That should tell you the proof that these work because they have endured for over 100 years and are still around and thriving.
- AeroPilates 700
- Unlimited Benefits
- Balanced Body Tower
- Quality Maker
- Easy to Assemble
These are machines that can grow with you and your increasing fitness and strength levels. They are adjustable in intensity and most are fairly good at adjusting to size requirements so that those short and tall can use them. This is a terrific purchase for anyone who is interested in building strong, lean muscle mass and increasing flexibility and improving cardiovascular health. These machines can be quite affordable to expensive. There is a lot of variability in machines and you need to know a few basic things when you are shopping for your reformer. Know your space requirements, dimensions are important for most anyone. Some are harder to assemble than others, quality instructions or ease of construction is important. Last, know your budget and what type of equipment you need.
10 Best Pilates Reformers
1. AeroPilates 700
There is literally no limit to how much this machine can do for your strength and health. You can get a full body workout with this one piece of equipment, it is like a complete home gym in one piece. It can give you both a cardiovascular challenge as well as build strength and improve your flexibility and musculature that will help you develop some nice tone and fortitude. With over 300 possible exercises, you won’t get bored.
Size really does make a difference with these machines. This particular model is one of the tallest on the market. Why is that important? It gives you much more adaptability to an ever-changing and workout. That will ultimately keep you more engaged. You can actually gain all the perks of running without having to put that repetitive stress on your joints.
Cost and Value
It is a constantly challenging machine that will be easy on your joints and give you an excellent workout. It is moderately priced, but the quality of construction combined with the practicality of the right amount of cushioning and support, this is an exceptional machine.
Wide and padded footbar
Adjustable headrest, with a pillow
Comfortable furry straps
Adjustable pulley risers provide a great feel and fit
Takes some work to adjust the rebounder
DVD’s included aren’t the best quality
2. Balanced Body Tower
Instructional DVDs come with this machine and these videos are going to be extra helpful for you. They can support casual exercisers to teachers. They go into a great deal explaining workouts and the mechanics of the equipment. For those who understand how your body works and how to use your body on these machines, you can still benefit from these videos. Those who are new to pilates and the associated equipment will learn everything they need to know to get started.
Body Balance is a trusted company that support their equipment to the max and are proud of it. They will help you with anything you need. Informative and friendly, their customer service will keep you happy and well taken care of.
Cost and Value
You are getting a true, unabridged experience with this company and this equipment. If you need any help with anything, Balanced Body is there to guide you and support your needs. The equipment itself will deliver an awesome workout with a lot of stability to keep you using working out with this piece for years to come.
Removable and adjustable shoulder rests
Improved ease of use with spring collars
Comes with 2 DVDs
CE approved medical device
Built in standing platform
Manual that is included is not as easy to follow, try looking on Youtube for instructions to set up
The build of this model is noteworthy in terms of its sturdiness and smoothness in motion. The attachments via ropes and foot/hand holds have a great feel and since the length of this machine can accommodate a wide range of individual heights it is a practical option for a diverse population.
This is a sleek looking machine that has a great visual appeal. You are getting high quality in the materials and construction. Even though it offers a great height from the ground, that won’t stop you from easily moving it where you need it to go because it has wheels that make that process very easy.
Cost and Value
You can own this reformer for close to 60% less than competing name brands and you won’t sacrifice sturdiness or quality in its construction. It is fairly easy to put together at home, so don’t be put off by that in the least bit. It will give you a smooth workout and it will perform for you the way you want giving you a leaner and stronger body.
3 ft. long cushion to lay on
Includes 4 springs of different tensions
Wheels make this machine portable
Footbar angle is adjustable
There are no hand posts near the headrest
Shoulder pads can feel stiff
4. Mad Dogg Athletics
Yes, this is a studio height machine but it isn’t complicated to use. Making adjustments will come easily and you can add as you need, without a problem If you want to have a jump board, this machine is designed to give you that opportunity to add it on. The one hand gear bar makes use simple and straightforward.
This machine offers a 5 spring system. You can easily adjust your required resistance between heavy, medium and light. As you progress in strength and agility, this machine will progress along with you. The fluidity of use is a definite crowd pleaser.
Cost and Value
If you engage in pilates often and are skilled enough to do it yourself, you could save yourself a lot of money on classes by doing your workouts at home. This machine is very comparable to what you’d get in a studio and it is easily stored for anyone who has little space to spare. It will definitely pay for itself and you can use it any time you want. For those of you who own studios or teach classes, this is quality enough to provide you with the tools you need for your students. Here is a solid professional machine that can is practical enough for the home.
4- Position locking footbar
4-position gear system
Adjustable rope system
Doesn’t come with instructional DVD
Footbar doesn’t go as low as far as other models
5. Balanced Body Allegro 2
This is not only well constructed and sturdy as heck, but it comes packed extremely. There is some piece of mind right there, you won’t have to worry about anything being damaged during delivery because everything is cradled inside one very large box. There is a ton of protection in the packaging and all the pieces are well marked and organized for you to easily get yourself set up and ready to workout.
You are going to love the carriage platform. It is effortless to use and you can adjust the headrest where you need it to be. The handle beneath the carriage makes changing cord and strap lengths very simple. All in all the movement of this machine is smooth, quiet and satisfying.
Cost and Value
This reformer will blow you away by meeting all your expectations and then some. The quality is on point, and the construction is substantial. This is a machine that is well worth the cost because it will be a lifetime investment in your health and fitness. It is a machine that is very easy to use, to top it all off and you will have no problem adjusting the springs.
Soft touch rope system
Ergonomic risers will allow for better pull up ability
2 free DVDs
Extra padding for comfort
Foot bar can take some time to install
6. Pilates Power Gym
When you and your family are ready to get healthy and fit, why not spend that time doing it together as a team? That crossing over of motivation and support is key to success. There is no need to get too complicated and get in the weeds with the many equipment options and workout trends out there today. All you need is this package and your whole family can easily use it and reap the benefits. It is easily adjusted to everyone’s strength and fitness level and it can hold up to 300 lbs., so it is definitely sturdy.
There is no need to be a veteran student of pilates to use this system, that being said, those who are very fit and experienced can certainly get great use out of the system. For any fitness level, figuring out how to use the machine is very intuitive, you will be able to just get on and start exercising. You’ll pick up the motions in no time. To guide you on structured workouts this package also comes with 5 DVDs that include a cardio training component, as well as a DVD that incorporates cardio and strength training into the professionally designed plan.
Cost and Value
Tough materials make up this reformer, so it is a strong piece of equipment. There is plenty of workout instruction so you can make the most out of using it and not easily get bored with your workouts. It is compact and portable so you don’t have to worry about space issues. You can easily store and move it wherever works best for you and your family.
7 workout DVDs
No assembly required
3 incline levels
48 resistance settings
#1 cord very low resistance, better used for children
Push up bar not included, sold separately
7. AeroPilates by Stamina 5-Cord
The design of this machine has comfort and fit for the user in mind. There is a really nice amount of padding for a soft feel. Once you are on it and comfortable, which won’t take long, you have an adjustable headrest and non-skid supports so the stability is there. The hand and foot straps weren’t left out either, they are padded as well.
You get all the bells and whistles included with this system. The 5-cord system, elastic bungee cords, padded platform, cardio rebounder, and foot bar and it doesn't stop there. You get a ton of instruction and support with a full-color workout chard to hang on your wall and 2 DVDs that will help guide you on your workouts.
Cost and Value
There is a lot that you get with this machine and at a price that cannot be beaten. The extras are practical and helpful and the machine itself comes with most of the add-ons that others don’t have included. The foldable frame is always a plus and the wheels allow you to move it around without any problems. The warranties that are included provide additional assurances.
63 lbs. Total machine weight
Adjustable strap height
Platform surface designed to support balance and control of movement
3-year frame warranty
90-day parts warranty
Tall cardio rebounder
May need to be oiled after hard use to avoid possible squeaking
The color of the bed can vary from the picture
8. STOTT Pilates MERRITHEW
This is a company that is in a specific niche of fitness and a perfect match for developing and supplying pilates reformers. They care about making products and developing supporting materials that will aid the world in effective exercising to improve upon life. They specifically work with conditioning and performance instruction and have an international presence in over 100 countries.
There is no questioning the quality of this machine or really anything that this company puts on the market. There is plentiful padding in the carriage and it glides so smoothly you will truly be able to enjoy your workout. The aluminum rails add to a very sturdy and balanced machine.
Cost and Value
You will be thoroughly impressed and pleased with this machine that comes to you from an accredited company that will give you everything you need to start a training program at home. This model is going to be comparable to the quality and performance that you’d expect from a studio. The shipping is spot on with all your components packaged well and the best part is that you won’t have a hard time with assembly.
250 lb weight capacity
Includes 4 full tension and 1 half tension springs
Includes reformer box
Metal roll up poll included
2 workout DVDs
Has a padded platform extender
Ships in a very large box
There have been some issues with delivery of this system
9. Balanced Body IQ
You are going to be able to easily store and move this model. This alone is an awesome feature for most people because these systems can be heavy and take up a lot of space so anything that helps that is key. The carriage is professional grade, and the tension options you get with this 5 spring structure will keep you engaged. The headrest and the footbar are easily adjustable to help you find the perfect fit for your body and preferences.
Don’t be surprised if you are instantly attracted to this model because it is one of the most comfortable benches on the market. The foot bar is seriously well cushioned and the shoulder area has just the right amount of padding. The headrest also has a pleasing quality about it.
Cost and Value
This is a good looking piece of training equipment, it has a very sleek style. It is professional grade so it is going to be a handy tool for you to get maximum use out of and be assured that it will have a long lifespan. The ease of use and ability to easily move and store make it an impeccable option to check out.
Built-in non-skid platform
Handmade in the USA
Comes with workout DVD
Nice storage options
Assembly can take some time
Sometimes there are problems with the bolts that come with this system
10. Pilates Power Gym Pro 3
For anyone looking for a space saving quality piece of equipment, here it is. It is designed to be compact and as such an excellent option for the home. It comes assembled and is easy to move around if needed.
Great for beginners
If you are new to this type of workout, this is an option that is perfect for newbies. It is easy to use, small and you can take it right out of the shipping box and start training immediately.
Cost and Value
There is a lot of quality here for an excellent price. It is a machine that will help you stay strong and fit and with the easy to follow DVDs you will have all the guidance you need to use it effectively. It doesn’t miss, as it provides a super smooth ride.
No assembly required
3 workout DVDs
Great for beginners
Holds up to 300 lbs.
Steel frame, sturdy construction
Low to the ground
Not the best option for taller individuals
This list gives you some ideas about what models are available and all the information about them. You may still be unsure after doing your research what is best for you, especially since comfort in use is such an important part of picking the right model. It is not a bad idea to check out your local studio and try some classes with different models before you shell out the cash for your own. Going to a local fitness equipment store could also be an option for trying out different models. Once you have a bit of a tangible understanding of the fit and feel of various models you can more easily understand the features and design behind the models you’ve researched. You will be much more equipped to make your best decision and then from there, it’s all about getting as many workouts as you want because you’ll have your own within an arm’s reach.
Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Pilates Reformers
Not everyone is Bob Vila, a lot of people are not, actually. So if you have a tough time putting legos together, a more complicated machine with tons of small parts is probably not going to work well for you unless you are willing to pay a local handyman to do the work for you. That being said, there is also the issue of actually using your machine. Some machines are pretty intuitive and easy to figure out without much extra instruction. Others are not. You aren’t going to use a machine that you don’t understand how to and you certainly aren’t going to be happy with your purchase if you can’t get use out of it. Readable, easy to digest instructions are key for any most products, but definitely when it comes to using one of these. If you are still confused with aspects of your machine, don’t be shy. Go out and contact a local instructor and see if they’d come and help you learn how to make your adjustments and fit so that you can be comfortable understanding your machine and using it.
The type of reformer matters as they come in different systems and construction. There are classic wooden models that use leather for their straps. The contemporary counterparts will mostly use synthetic straps and have much more padding for their cartridges. Some machines are significantly taller than others. Some roll very smoothly while others can be a little choppy and stiff. Your height and size matter in the machine you choose and you always want one that has a smooth gliding ability for your best use. At the end of the day, what is most comfortable for you is the most important part of your decision. Take the time, try out some options and make your opinions about what suits you best.
The most important factor for most anything anyone is considering purchasing is knowing the budget they have put in place for the item. The great thing about shopping for this equipment is that there is a wide range of pricing and options for you to choose from. You don’t have to be put off from getting your own just because your budget is on the lower end. You can still find a fully functional and solid apparatus that won’t break the bank. For those of you that have a larger allocation, obviously, the options are almost endless.
As discussed there are many different options for you to choose and as such, there is also variability in sizing and design. Some machines are very tall while others are more compact. Some allow for portability by way of wheels while others are foldable and much more easy to store. You should look at the space you have to accommodate your choice, and if you need it to be more easily stored or if it can stay out in a designated spot. How tall you are and how heavy you also matter. Most machines can accommodate quite a bit of weight, which make them feasible options for most people. The height of the machines differ widely so if you are on the taller side, this is an important aspect to look at so you can find a machine that will fit you and work for you best.
Other Important Factors to Consider
It is always a great idea for beginners to check out certified instructors and take a class or two to become familiar with the exercise and the equipment. That being said, pilates is not a trademarked program, so make sure you do some research on the instructor before you go. Get student reviews, check certifications, read their website if they have one. Once you find a qualified instructor, you can surely refer to them for assistance so you can get the most out of your new equipment and your exercise program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can pilates help me with sports?
Pilates is a great strengthener of your core. That is your “powerhouse” because everything you do activates your core and if it is strong you will do everything better. When you have a solid and strong core, you will improve in every other aspect of physical activity including sports. It can help you run faster, improve exercising with better form and more direct impact on muscle building, you can throw faster, jump higher, literally everything physical you want to improve upon will be improved with a strong core. Because Pilates is such a great exercise option that when doing it, you can’t avoid strengthening your core, it is absolutely a great option to incorporate into your training routine. It can help you improve in the sport of your choice and the best part is that it is easy on the joints so it will provide you an exercise option that will take it easy on those knees, for example.
Q: Can this type of workout lengthen your muscles?
Lengthening muscles isn’t possible. You might be thinking that is what pilates can do because of the way the body of those who are active in pilates looks. It gives that look of toned long muscles because of the way this type of exercise allows your body to do work in a full range of motion. As you do these workouts more regularly you will strengthen your musculature as well as burn fat and then you will have that appearance of being toned, slim, even taller.
Q: Can pilates improve your flexibility?
Yes, it can. There was a study done in Brazil that showed women who were novices and had no prior experience did about 20 sessions and they improved their flexibilities. About 19.1% improvement was documented. That’s pretty neat. When you are able to use a full range of motion in your body you can really tone and strengthen the entirety of your muscles and as such mover, your body in all planes much better, therefore making improvements in your flexibility.
Q: Is there anything I should do to prepare for my first session in a studio?
Not necessarily, the instructor will give you all the guidance you need. However, it couldn’t hurt to give yourself an understanding of the basics regarding how reformers actually work as well as what the parts are and what they are for. If you can do a little research and get acquainted with terms it will give you a bit of an edge towards understanding your instructor and helping you get the most out of your session.
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