Pilates Mat vs. Pilates Reformer

Working against resistance is essential to the 500 classical pilates exercises which in turn helps build strength through the “powerhouse” and or abdomen, lower back, hips and buttocks. You can accomplish all this by doing pilates on either a mat, using your own body weight as resistance or on a reformer where the springs and pulleys create an additional resistance to your own body weight.

Pilates is for everyone! Yes pilates is for women, men, children, grandma and grandpa, the bottom line – anyone can do pilates. It promises core strength, flexibility and lean muscle tone. But, which modality is best for you? Pilates Mat or Pilates Reformer and how does one choose between the two?

Pilates Mat

Pilates mat is done in a live setting usually in a group and on a mat. These classes at 416 Pilates are scheduled as a “Pilates Mat” class. I usually recommend pilates mat for beginners because this is the most effective way to get the results you are looking for and to start learning how to use your deeper muscles which make up your “powerhouse,” and do not forget the most cost effective as well when starting your pilates program.  Building your foundation is extremely important along with the control you have over your body. Now some of you might say doing pilates mat isn’t as challenging nor seem as fun as a reformer but note, you will gain an overall improvement in your strength, posture, agility and flexibility as well as tones muscles within just a few months from just attending one mat class a week. Once these fundamentals are learned we step up the flow of the class creating a more challenging environment based on your skill level.

Pilates Reformer

I’ve heard you all say it, “that reformer looks like a torture device.” But, this “torture device” contraption with its sliding carriage and adjustable springs allows me to regulate the tension and resistance you work with as we flow through various exercises that ask you to lye down, sit and even stand. I know this contraption looks daunting and yes, I do ask that you take a few private lessons with me before you just jump into a group class.  The reasoning for all of this is that it allows you to feel comfortable with the exercises, understand my cues and what I am asking you to do with your body. Financially you will see an increase in price when comparing a pilates reformer class to a pilates mat class. This is because you are using a resistance machine that can provide a more challenging experience increasing ones strength and endurance verses just a pilates mat class. You will see a difference in your arms, legs and abdominal muscles after a dozen of these classes.  One last thing to note about a pilates reformer is that this machine is capable with the power of resistance to increase ones range of motion. This is particularly important for those of you who suffer from an injury to do a modified exercise safely.

So what do I recommend? 

When combined, pilates mat and pilates reformer, you learn how to use your powerhouse, make performing daily activities easier and you will tone your body along with increasing your flexibility. At 416 Pilates you can combine both modalities to make this more cost effective and beneficial for yourself as well. Each has modality has its benefits but either will help you achieve your overall fitness goals.


Have more questions? Call me, email or text me. I am always available to answer any and all of your questions. Enjoy the day and I look forward to seeing you in the studio soon!

Meghan Uhl 

Owner 416 Pilates



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