The 9 Best Pilates Reformers
This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in February of 2018. The essential cross-training apparatus for serious Pilates practitioners, a reformer provides the extra resistance you need to step up your routine for a more intense, dynamic workout than you can get with just a mat. Choose from our list of basic models for a little at-home core-strengthening exercise, or go with a heavier-duty option to set up a small studio for multiple users. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 06, 2020:
My first experience on a reformer was back when I was still a high-school senior. At the time, I was quite active and practicing yoga, and my mother had insisted that we try Pilates out. So, we did, and every day at the crack of dawn, we’d drive to Pilates class, and I’d always look forward to using the reformer, because it was something I just couldn’t get with yoga. Pilates is incredible, and the way I personally describe it is that if yoga is all about releasing the energy in your spine, then Pilates is kind of like ‘yoga on drugs’.
Because your back can be a very delicate part of your body, this is one product category where mid-range or more expensive options can serve you better, particularly if you have back problems. So, I’ve removed a few of the budget options that were previously on the list. What you’ll tend to find is that lower-end options can feel quite ‘wobbly’ - though they do lend themselves well to easy storage and transportation. Many of them also don’t have a 5-spring system.
Ease of transportation shouldn’t be a priority with reformers, however, I know that these machines can be quite expensive and Stamina Fitness makes a few very popular budget models, so for this reason, I’ve left in a couple of the better ones from before, like the Stamina Aero 700 as well as the Stamina Pro XP, but moved them down the list.
I’ve added two models from Balanced Body – the Balanced Body Allegro 2 as well as the Balanced Body IQ. If you have the money and a sensitive back, then I would highly, highly recommend the Allegro 2. It really is quite a stunning piece of equipment and the carriage movement is incredibly smooth, even compared to the most high-end Peak Pilates and Stott Merrithew models. The Balanced Body IQ is quite similar to the original Allegro model, and offers a low center of gravity for that feeling of added stability that many other budget options don’t have.
Stott and Balanced Body really make some high-quality models, and there are actually four models in the Stott product line in increasing order of sophistication, three of which - the Essential, the Max and the Max Plus, were already in this list. I’ve left them in, but I’ve replaced the SPX Max Plus with the Stott Merrithew V2 Max Plus – V2 models are built higher off the ground and are also slightly wider.
I decided not to include the Max Plus Rehab, because, aside from wanting to promote greater brand diversity, as a rehabilitation model, it doesn’t add too much onto the Max Plus, and as a better rehabilitation alternative, I would suggest the Cadillac line of models from Peak Pilates, which offer a more diverse set of movement options.
Cadillacs by Peak Pilates In many ways, Cadillacs capture the essence of the original modifications that Joseph Pilates himself made to hospital beds in an attempt to rehabilitate injured patients during WWI. Providing opportunities for movement in a variety of novel ways, these advanced models can offer a challenge to even the most experienced practitioners. peakpilates.com
Total Gym Products Total Gym Products belong to an innovative group of home-gym machines that have modified the traditional flat reformer design to operate on an incline. Admittedly, you won’t find certain features like shoulder rests or an adjustable foot-bar on these machines, but they can accommodate for many of the exercises that you’d be able to perform on a traditional reformer. totalgymdirect.com