When it comes to low-impact workouts, Pilates is the OG for a reason. The nearly hundred-year-old workout created by Joseph Pilates has a laser-like precision for targeting your core — the group of muscles wrapping around your mid-section, from your abdomen to your lower back and even your hips. If you’ve ever taken a mat Pilates class, then you’re familiar with the power small, controlled movements can have in toning and strengthening your entire body. But Pilates isn’t limited to workouts on a mat — you can target your muscles even more deeply when you move to an apparatus like the Pilates reformer.
By adding the Pilates reformer to your practice, you can safely strengthen and lengthen your body simply by adding more resistance training and, for some exercises, increasing the range of movement. Even the most basic Pilates reformers build upon the seemingly basic bodyweight exercises you’ve perfected on the mat. But when you invite the reformer’s springs, bungees and a flat platform with wheels (called the “carriage”) on a fixed frame to the party, even the tiniest movements get kicked into high gear for more targeted results. Whether you’re a beginner in every sense of the word or a master trainer, these are the best Pilates reformers for turning your home into the swanky boutique fitness studio of your dreams.
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1. AeroPilates Premier Reformer
When taking your Pilates practice from the mat to the reformer, you want a machine that will work as hard you do. And that, dear reader, is exactly what you get in the AeroPilates Premier Reformer. The padded carriage features an ergonomic and adjustable head rest on a four-cord resistance system that allows you to adjust the intensity. The cardio rebounder at the foot of the reformer provides additional versatility and can be switched out with the padded foot bar for stability. The furry hand and foot straps are a welcome comfort when you’re pushing through your daily Pilates hundred.
2. Merrithew At-Home SPX Reformer Bundle
The folks at Merrithew outdid themselves with this comprehensive Pilates reformer bundle for at-home workouts. It includes four full-tension springs and one half-tension spring to further customize your resistance level. The addition of a reformer box allows for greater range of motion on certain exercises while also providing support for knee- and hip-friendly modifications. But what truly makes it stand out for beginners is the inclusion of two workout DVDs for guided instruction.
3. AeroPilates Reformer Plus 379
While most Pilates reformers are large and can be difficult to move, the AeroPilates Reformer Plus 379 can easily fold up for storage under a bed or in a closet. Just don’t mistake its smaller footprint to mean it’s a less versatile machine — quite the contrary. The padded foot bar is interchangeable with a large cardio rebounder and the four-cord resistance system has multiple intensities for a highly customized workout. The foldable frame with wheels really sets it apart.