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Pilates Mat and Reformer – Which to choose?

Do you look at a timetable and say ‘Help! What is a Reformer class?

Do you think that Mat classes are the ‘easy option’ compared to the odd looking bench used in Reformer?!

Think again!

Both of them:

  • have lots of variations, and provide exciting options of creativity and variety.
  • provide the chance to create flexibility and strength at the same time, and to improve the powerhouse.

However, there are some differences in terms of focus between the two types of Pilates.

Did you know that both the Mat and the Reformer are the creations of Joseph Pilates? He invented the Reformer itself!

Mat session 

During a mat session, the main power comes from you, and we are using the power of gravity. Pilates mat practice is the foundation for the complete Pilates workout regime. A conventional Pilates mat class will primarily target your legs, stomach, lower, and upper back muscles. Your body weight acts as resistance against gravity on the mat, making the workout more difficult in many situations. Rather than relying on the aid or support of an apparatus’s springs and wires, you must have complete control over your body. Because it focuses on learning how to manage your muscles during exercises, mat work is a wonderful alternative for beginners. At the same time, advanced Mat classes are the HARDEST in light of the fact that clients are utilizing their own body constantly, the reformer is not there helping or supporting in that case. 

Reformer Pilates

The Pilates reformer is a classic piece of Pilates apparatus that was created by Joseph Pilates during a World War I, in an internment camp to assist immobilised troops rehabilitate. Today’s Reformer is a narrow bed with a sliding carriage, straps, and pulleys, with springs added or removed to make it more or less resistive. The Reformer acts as a support system by adding resistance to the Pilates exercises via the use of the springs that form part of the machine.  Additional springs are there to strengthen larger muscle groups, whereas lower springs are used to challenge the stabilising muscles. This allows the intensity to vary widely from person to person, making it an incredibly versatile device. This ability, combined with the help of the resistance provided by the device, enables people of all abilities (including those with reduced mobility or injuries) to exercise safely. Thus, the Reformer helps to teach the body the importance of the being balanced between the two sides whilst having various fun movements involved. The Reformer also highly helps to make the class extremely personal, and suited to individual’s wishes and needs (e.g. injury rehab). It’s also a lot of fun! 

Great for the Core!

Therefore, they are both great for strengthening your core and toning your muscles. Both approaches teach you how to start motions from your body’s powerhouse (your core/centering), which will immediately transfer into advantages in your daily activities. The Reformer provides resistance to Pilates exercises by using the machine’s springs. Mat sessions use the body’s weight for exercises, but the Reformer adds resistance to Pilates activities by using the machine’s springs. 

So Mat or Reformer?

The good news for the Pilates fans out there that you don’t have to choose! Actually, Joseph Pilates intended the two to work together, and combine them as they complement each other perfectly and you will get even more out of your Mat workouts if you combine them with Reformer, and vice versa.  

Check out our timetable here to book find the time suited to you!