Should You Switch the Mat for the Pilates Reformer?


Reformer classes are proving there’s more to Pilates than a mat workout. You may prefer the minimal workout that the mat has to offer. However, the reformer has a lot more to give when it comes to resistance training and body toning. There are merits to practising with both, and some users may prefer one over the other. By showcasing the differences, we’re hoping this will help you decide whether to switch the mat for a reformer.

Pilates Mat Versus Reformer

Both Pilates mat workouts and Pilates reformer workouts provide similar benefits, such as improved strength, posture, agility, flexibility and toned muscles. However, there are some added benefits to working with a Pilates reformer over a mat:

Increased Resistance

The resistance created by the pulley and spring system of the reformer provides a more challenging strength and endurance workout than mat classes. In fact, the resistance provided by the reformer offers bone and joint health benefits, making it an ideal practice for older users. This is a particularly attractive perk for those who are looking to boost their fitness levels and reach their goals more quickly.

Variety of Exercises

The reformer’s many attachments increase the range of modifications that can be made to the exercises, and allow additional exercises beyond what can be done on a mat.

Assistance for Limited Range of Motion

The reformer can provide more assistance than the mat, making it easier for people with limited range of movement or injuries to safely do modified exercises.

Improved Stability

Unlike on the mat, reformer Pilates is done on an elevated surface, providing more stability. The sliding carriage of the reformer allows for more controlled movements while still being able to regulate the pressure on your muscles.

Reduced Strain on Joints

The reformer’s design, with its gliding motion and support, can be gentler on the joints than some mat exercises, making it a good choice for people with joint issues or those looking for a low-impact workout. While you can use padding to support your knees on the mat, the reformer offers plenty of challenging exercises that can be performed without compromising joint comfort.

Targeted Muscle Isolation

The reformer allows for precise targeting of specific muscle groups, which can be especially beneficial for rehabilitation or injury prevention. It enables you to focus on individual muscles, ensuring a well-rounded workout.

Other Considerations that May Affect Your Choice

The mat doesn’t require much space. You also won’t need much in the way of props and accessories, as a block, resistance strap or toning ball can more than suffice. You can even take it with you, meaning you can pretty much practice yoga wherever you want – at your local studio, in your own home or even on the beach!

The good news is that a reformer can also be compact. Some designs can even be stored vertically. The Casa Reformer and Fit Reformer are both designed for home use. These will be bigger than a Pilates mat, but can fit into a home gym space. Sure, you won’t be able to take the reformer with you on your travels, but it certainly packs plenty of fitness benefits and challenges your body in new ways.

Reformer Pilates is often considered a continuation of mat Pilates. They can work harmoniously together. The mat helps you practice basic movements and transitions between movements.

Is Reformer Pilates Hard?

Both reformer and mat Pilates are suitable for beginner and advanced Pilates workouts. However, we encourage you to hire a specialist reformer Pilates instructor or join a local studio to get to grips with how to use the apparatus. To make sure you’re getting the most out of the equipment and to try new movements in a safe and supportive environment, this is definitely the best approach.

Both mat and reformer Pilates have their place in a well-rounded and consistent Pilates workout.

Pilates Equipment for Your Home

Not sure which form of home Pilates equipment is right for you? Why not try both and see for yourself? If you’re just starting out with reformer Pilates, it could be worth joining a few studio sessions to enjoy practising in a supportive environment.

Thinking of taking up Pilates or enhancing your current routine? We have all the advanced Pilates equipments you need to get started and grow your strength. Enjoy the benefits, and feel stronger and healthier in your body. Shop online now for a smooth checkout and delivery experience.