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Pilates Machine Guide: The Top Five Pilates Reformers of 2020

by Brittany Tober |

Visiting your local pilates studio has been a challenge lately, and many pilates enthusiasts are looking into what kind of options they have for purchasing pilates reformers you can set up in your home.

Pilates is all about building core strength while enhancing our balance and flexibility. The exercises were developed by Joe Pilates and are low-impact exercises that focus on working abdominal muscles, lower back, as well as the hip region.   Due to the low-impact nature of these exercises, they are extremely helpful for cross-training, injury recovery, and performance improvement.

While there’s plenty of exercises that can be performed with just a mat and necessary resistance equipment, purchasing or having access to a Pilates reformer can add hundreds of additional routines to your workout. As the founder of Pilates, Joe Pilates’s said:

“Of course you can exercise without machines. But it’s not as efficient and would take longer.”

For those of you looking to dive into the world of pilates, we’ve provided a guide to help you learn the basics about the workout and what you should look into when purchasing your first or even second at-home reformer.  We’ll be covering:

  • The Basics of Pilates Reformers
  • Why Choose a Pilates Reformer for Your Home?
  • Standard Features of Pilates Reformers
  • The Top 5 Choices for In-Home Pilates Reformers

The Basics of Pilates Reformers

Pilates is an innovative workout solution by Joseph Pilates, who conceived the concept for full-body exercising routines that would require efficient equipment.  The exercises are designed to improve flexibility, improve your core, and provide a low-impact way for adults and even injured individuals to exercise.

The most common forms of such equipment are resistance bands, gym balls, and the foam workout mat. However, with the pilates reformer, you can forego the numerous accessories needed for a traditional pilates workout session and expand the number of routines at your disposal. Reformers are all about multifunctionality - the low impact equipment encourages an array of primary and intermediate pilates routines such as:

  • Footwork
  • The Hundred
  • Side Leg Strap-Clam
  • Kneeling Arm Extensions
  • Arm Circles
  • Leg Circles
  • Pelvic circles
  • Short Box - Flat Back
  • Side Sit-ups
  • Elephants

And each with their unique way of enhancing the physical health, pilates workouts do wonders to body postures and body aches, especially for adults for whom traditional high-impact workouts might be harder to perform.

Why Choose a Pilates Reformer for Your Home?

Not everyone can walk into a gym these days, and a Pilates reformer can help expand your existing routine of Pilates exercises without having to give up too much floor space.

The semi-manual machine encourages working-out against the body-weight by assisting as well as resisting movements that would be harder to replicate with just basic resistance equipment.  Reformers provide adequate space to perform routines requiring sitting, kneeling, lying down, or standing without taking up much more space than a yoga mat.

With daily routines, you can reach weight goals, increase flexibility, improve posture, and improve heart health through suitable & impactful workouts. 

The pilates workouts on a reformer are more dynamic versions of resistance exercises, with added-springs for a variety of flexible exercise routines. These springs add in extra-support as well as challenge the user to advance their techniques. 

The added pulleys, ropes, and straps help provide physical rehabilitation exercises to correct posture, heal aches, and improve overall flexibility. 

Standard Features of Pilates Reformers

Most pilates reformers will have the essential features needed to perform an array of routines, but not all machines are made equal.  Before investing in an at-home machine, it’s important to look at the features common to reformers, and how these should impact your buying decision.  

Pilates reformers are complex machines, and so all of these parts are going to be working together to help deliver the workout routine you are looking to create.  These features include:

Frames

A reformer frame is a carriage with a softly-cushioned bed that can glide back and forth on the frame rails. The frame is the main component on which the user can lie down, stand, kneel, and perform various movements for pilates exercise. 

When checking out the frame, make sure to:

  • Check out the body-quality made from either sturdy blonde wood or the durable and industrial steel/aluminum.
  • Test the frame's stability and opt-out from wobbly or cracked surfaces. 
  • Calculate the frame's size in comparison to your workout studio. 

Springs

The springs are what adds the element of resistance into pilates workouts. These are adjustable components that can level up or ease down the difficulty in work-outs against resistance. 

The variety adds to the dynamic range in pilates resistance workouts. Of course, it is crucial to look out for:

  • Good quality springs for appropriate resistance. High-end springs provide color-coded options to differentiate moderation from difficulty in resistance. 
  • Adjustability in springs, for appropriate resistance during every workout. 

Straps

Reformer straps are important for using the arms and legs to move the carriage frame back and forth. These are adjustable loops to allow the limbs to control the user's mobility over the frame. Consider looking into the material used for these, the padding used (if any) on the straps, and whether the adjustable settings will work for the exercise routine you plan to use.

Add-On or Optional Accessories

A high end and user-friendly pilates reformer will also come with modern accessories to enhance the workout sessions for maximum benefits.  These include:

  • An adjustable foot-bar
  • An adjustable head-rest
  • An external box on which the user can lift their body for extra advanced workouts. 

Top 5 Pilates Reformers for 2020 

There is a multitude of reformers to choose from, based on their frame finish, additional accessories, and how much of a budget you have to spend.  The following five apparatus can help complete a home studio or even provide a great starting point for small to mid-size pilates studios or gyms.  

1. Merrithew™ At Home Pro Reformer Bundle

Price: $4,499.00

Dimensions: 76.2cm x 2.5m

Weight: 65.8kg

This at-home reformer bundle is a complete package, coming in with professional and durable accessories to help you take advantage of almost all routines during a pilates session. 

The reformer's fortified aluminum rails and the wooden frame is perfect for a full-body workout experience, especially with the added-Vertical Frame and Mat Converter. This machine falls on the higher-end of Pilates’ workout apparatus and can accommodate all body types. The smooth and comfortable upholstery on the frame and padding makes it an appropriate fit for the injured and the aged as well.  

Features:

  • High-quality EVA foam and vinyl upholstery for comfortable high-intensity workout sessions. 
  • Adjustable long-range Patented Retractable Rope System for a customized range of motion
  • C-channel aluminum rails to allow smooth and friction-free carriage mobility. 
  • High-end spring system with adjustable resistance options for customized workouts. 
  • Four-position adjustable foot-bars and detachable shoulder rest. 
  • Adjustable Gearbar slots into three different positions, & more. 

2. Merrithew™ V2 Max™ Reformer Bundle


Price: $4,190.00

Dimensions: 76.2cm x 2.5m

Weight: 65.8kg

This Merrithew reformer bundle is a good choice for beginners and experts alike.  The V2 Max reformer bundle is an incredibly versatile and high-quality pilates apparatus that can be a good option for fitness professionals in studios, facilities, as well as at-home gyms. 

This reformer is known for its incredible efficiency in one-on-one sessions and can also be used for group workout routines. The durable materials used in this model can withstand prolonged, high-intensity workout schedules for multiple clients. 

The bundle also provides the unique addition of the Reformer Box and the foot strap, allowing a new range in workout routines for multiple users. This bundle Includes:

  • Reformer box and foot strap
  • A Maple Wood roll-up pole
  • 1 Padded Platform Extender

Features:

  • Fortified vinyl-upholstery and EVA foam built for continuous studio HIIT Pilates workouts. 
  • Silicon rubber and PVC High-Traction Reformer Feet for superior grip.
  • Enhanced Springs for use with Jumpboard and multiple other accessories. 
  • Patented Retractable Rope System for adjustable changes in range, workout stages, & more. 

3. Elina Pilates® Standard Reformer with Tower

Price: $4,290.00

Dimensions: 69cm x 2.34m

This maple wood reformer redefines durability and strength to accommodate users of all sizes, heights, and varied abilities. Its suitability remains constant for a beginner as well as a veteran pilates performer. 

The Elina Pilates® Standard Reformer comes with a removable stainless steel tower for exclusive pilates workout routines. Additionally, the soundless patented rolling mechanism adds to the aesthetic of this homely pilates appliance for remote use. 

Features:

  • Removable shoulder rests for added comfort and utility. 
  • 8 PU wheels with precision bearings for a soundless-workout experience. 
  • Padded foam headrest with three positional provisions. 
  • Snappable ropes with adjustable features for resistance workouts of varying intensity. 
  • One red (heavy) spring, two green (medium), and two yellow (light) springs for multi-adjustable resistance workouts, & more. 

Tower Features:

  • Stainless steel body with 37 hooks for a fortified hold on the reformer.  
  • Anodized aluminum with rubber grip stretch bar for safety and protection while working out. 
  • Short and long Cadillac springs in 1 red (heavy) spring, two green (medium), and two yellow (light), each, & more.

4. Merrithew™ V2 Max Plus™ Reformer

Price: $6,890.00

Dimensions: 61cm x 98m

Weight: 65.8kg

This studio-friendly professional reformer comes with an exclusive vertical tower for added choices in working out. This is a 3-in-one high-end appliance that works equal wonders as a:

  • Raised mat platform
  • half-trapeze Cadillac, and of course
  • A standard reformer. 

The Merrithew™ V2 Max Plus™ Reformer is known for its provision for variety in high-resistance workouts for intermediate and advanced pilates enthusiasts. The appliance also allows for an extra reformer length upgrade till 103 in, to accommodate users with height more than 6 ft 4 in. The bundle includes:

  • A mat converter
  • Reformer Box with foot strap
  • Padded Platform Extender
  • DVD to understand essential reformer assembly instructions. 

Features:

  • High-Precision Gearbars slot upgrades to increase gear bar positions till 6, allowing user-friendly adjustments in tension for various clients. 
  • Easy-roll wheels for smooth and soundless repositions. 
  • Additional mat converter for Mat Work workouts, suitable on raised surfaces. 
  • Thick and sturdy wooden standing platform and pommel-style shoulder rest for varied body weights, & more. 

5. Merrithew™ Onyx SPX® Max Reformer Bundle w/ Vertical Stand

Price:  $3,890.00

Dimensions: 56cm x 257m

Weight: 158kg

This one-of-a-kind vertical pilates reformer holds the matte black aesthetic while delivering quality high-performance utility.  The design is popular for its minimal storage-space and smooth-rolling carriage with added tension springs for an array of pilates options. Merrithew™ Onyx SPX® Max Reformer Bundle with its upgrade-options of the vertical frame mat converter is the best option for an in-house pilates workout. 

Upgrades Include:

  • High-end springs for the best-in-class resistance exercises. 
  • Sound-less workout provisions thanks to aluminum rails and neoprene spring covers. 
  • Adjustable rope system for adding difficulty ranges to daily Pilates workout.  

Features:

  • Studio-friendly comfortable Vinyl and EVA foam upholstery for the ultimate comfort. 
  • Patented Retractable Rope System to customize the reformer for more advanced exercises. 
  • Vertical carriage over C-section rails for friction-free and soundless mobility. 
  • Adjustable spring systems (color-coded) to customize tensions for advanced workouts. 
  • Shoulder-rest and foot-bar for pain-relief in medical workout routines, & more.

Have More Questions About Pilates Reformers?

A Pilates reformer is a large purchase, and we’re more than happy to help answer even more detailed questions you might have about our reformers. 

Whether you have size restrictions, weight restrictions, a need for taller or larger appliances for larger individuals, or looking for an option for beginners, we can help walk you through the process and select the apparatus that fits your home or studio.

Feel free to connect with us via support@pilatesconnector.com with any questions or concerns. We would love to hear from you!