Finding the Best Pilates Machine
The most popular and well known type of Pilates machine is the Pilates reformer. The device features a flat sliding base that a person supports their body on while sliding forward and backward into Pilates positions. Compared to Pilates chairs, arcs, and cadillacs, a Pilates reformer is the best Pilates machine for both versatility and functionality. A reformer can be purchased in a wide variety of styles, and can be customized based on personal preferences and a person’s fitness level. Using a Pilates reformer will bump up a floor routine to a whole new level, and offer new challenges with each workout due to the variety of Pilates moves it can support.
There are several major brands to choose from when purchasing Pilates equipment, such as Stamina, Balanced Body, Stott, Peak, and Gratz Pilates. All of them offer reliable products, but Balanced Body offers the best customization options while Stott Pilates and Gratz Pilates products lead the competition with their quality. Peak and Stamina products are by far the most economical, and can be found for bargain prices on retail sites such as Amazon.com. When looking to purchase the right Pilates machine, consider the following factors:
- The setting it will be used in, i.e. home or gym
- The level of experience the person or persons using it will have with Pilates
- The amount of money available to spend on the product
- Whether the machine will be used for strength training, relaxation, or rehabilitation
- Comfort, style, height, and color preferences
- Quality and craftsmanship needs
A Pilates Machine for the Gym
There is usually a big difference between a Pilates reformer used for casual home use and a reformer being purchased for a gym or studio. Gym reformers need a greater level of durability, as they are used around the clock by a variety of patrons. They need to be above all functional and easy to clean, so that each person using the machine can easily wipe it down after each use.
Need space? Look for a reformer that can be stacked one on top of the other easily for better utilization of studio space such as the Group SPX Max Reformer by Stott Pilates, or Balanced Body’s Allegro Sport Reformer. These pieces of equipment are a great addition to any gym because of their functionality and affordability, and their focus on strength training.
A Pilates reformer for a gym needs to be able to withstand a greater level of wear, tear, and frankly, carelessness, as a personal machine will receive more loving care than the machine beat up at a gym. The gym reformer should also be adjustable to accommodate people of different heights.
Some gyms or Pilates studios will be interested in maintaining a touch of class and style by using attractive wood bases and custom upholstery. Before customizing, consider the cost trade offs of functionality and style, and whether the fabric and base material will stand the test of time.
A Pilates Machine for the Home
A Pilates reformer used for the home usually will be made of lighter material and often can be folded under a bed or wheeled into a closet space, such as the Balanced Body Pilates IQ® Reformer. These types of reformers can be found for much less expense than a standard gym reformer because it is less heavy and professional looking. It needs to be sturdy, but it doesn’t need to be as durable as a gym reformer because it will only have one or two people using it, usually no more than once a day.
For the middle range of experience, the Stamina XP 686 AeroPilates Pro Reformer is a great product for a reasonable price. For the more serious trainer, or a person buying a piece of equipment for a comprehensive home gym, there are a wide range of handsome Pilates reformers in polished wood styles, with beautiful upholstery options available from Balanced Body. Because these machines are high end products, they cost much more than the standard home Pilates device.
Choosing the Right Price
An important factor to consider before purchasing a Pilates machine for the home is whether it is worth the expense, because most Pilates machines are thousands of dollars. A machine under $1000 is usually not very sturdy or attractive, but generally compact. A $1000-$2000 machine can be purchased for much better results. The top end machines range from $3000 to $6000, and are usually more expensive because of the materials used to build them, and the customization options available. Clinical and rehab reformers fall into this last category, and will have the most functionality to offset the price. Many machines also include warranties to insure a safe investment.
Level of Experience
A Pilates reformer also requires experience to use, while other equipment—such as a Pilates resistance band, chair, or ball—do not require much training to master. The beginner should steer clear of purchasing a Pilates reformer until gaining some level of experience using the equipment at a gym. Spending upwards of $5000 for a machine also would make no sense for the beginner, but a high end device is the perfect purchase for a gym looking for class and durability.
Functionality Versus Style
There are some differences between a reformer used for strength training, and a machine used for relaxation or rehabilitation. For rehabilitation, a clinical reformer should be sought out, which will be flexible to patient needs, with features such as adjustable height. Clinical reformers are usually more expensive, such as the V2 Max Plus Rehab Reformer by Stott Pilates that is over $6000. However, such a device is long lasting and a wonderful addition to any comprehensive gym.
Peak Pilates offers a PPS Deluxe Reformer, Cadillac and Mat that combines a reformer with a caddilac device. This will add more options to the workout routine, although it is less compact than a reformer alone.
Comfort, style, height, and color preferences are an important consideration, as most reformers from major brands such as Stotts, Gratz, Balanced Body, and Stamina can be ordered customized to these preferences.
Quality and craftsmanship are the most important factors to consider when seeking the best Pilates machine to buy. A reformer will take a lot of wear and tear over the course of its life due to the intensity of Pilates workouts, so a more expensive machine, such as the Gratz Pilates Classic reformer, is well worth the extra money over the long run. To bump up the style, a Gratz reformer can be purchased as a Designer model, or Portable model for the studio looking to maximize space.
It is always a good idea to try out the Pilates machine before making such a large investment, so when making that final purchase, test the machine for:
- smoothness—transitioning parts should glide effortlessly from one position to the next
- sturdiness—there should be no shaking or wobbling
- comfort—look for a comfortable but firm sliding seat, and slip resistant handles
A Pilates machine is a beautiful addition to any home, a wonderful way to relax and improve flexibility, and a necessity in any comprehensive gym environment. By following the guidelines above, the best Pilates machine for a person’s needs shouldn’t be hard to find.