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Top 5 Best Pilates Reformer Reviews for Jan. 2020
The benefits of pilates are life changing; but what is the best reformer for a serious pilates practitioner who wants to be able to work out at home, or someone who has progressed beyond pilates exercise on the mat? Groom+Style puts the different reformers to the test to find the best pilates reformer.
Even if you’re a devoted couch potato, you probably know the enormous benefits of Pilates. The exercises strengthen your core, improve your flexibility, balance and stability, boost your strength, increase energy levels, and help with back pain – the list goes on and on. Celebrities and everyday folks who just want a fun way to stay in shape have made Pilates one of the best-known and popular fitness systems in the world; Pilates classes are now even more popular than yoga.
Pilates on a Mat vs. Pilates using a Reformer
The simplest way to do Pilates exercises is on a mat. The more challenging and effective way is on a reformer, a device which uses pulleys and springs to create the resistance that’s impossible to generate by simply using the body. There are many different levels of Pilates reformers, available at many different price levels. But if you’ve progressed past the point of taking a low-stress Pilates class a few times a month, and you’d rather work out at home instead of traveling to a fully-equipped studio, you’re probably ready to buy a reformer.
Strap on for the ride as Groom+Style list our top 5 best Pilates reformers.
1. Stott Pilates At Home SPX Reformer Bundle
The review team is starting with the big gun here. The Stott bundle (Stott Pilates is a version of the Pilates method developed by Lindsay and Moira Merrithew) is professional quality and has a price tag to match.
Our thought is that if you’re ready to bite the bullet and purchase a home Pilates reformer, you’re probably experienced enough to want the same type of workout you’d get in a studio and might consider shelling out the money it takes to get it.
The Stott includes everything you need. It comes standard with a reformer box with foot strap, double loop straps, a padded platform extender and metal roll-up pole; there’s also great flexibility when it comes to resistance, as the bundle includes four full-tension and one half-tension springs.
This is a rock-solid and durable commercial-grade machine with the features you’d want in a high-end reformer: four footbar positions, three headrest positions, three gear bar positions and six carriage-stopping positions. It’s comfortable, it moves extremely smoothly, and it does exactly what a machine in a Pilates studio does.
Stott makes it easy to vary your workouts, with two DVDs that detail 250 Pilates exercises you can do on this reformer. It may take you a while to get through all of them, but you’ll end up amazed at the strength of your core by the time you get to that point. This is a fabulous product.
Key facts and figures for the Stott Pilates At Home SPX Reformer Bundle:
2. Balanced Body Pilates IQ Reformer
This is another professional-grade Pilates Reformer from a respected equipment manufacturer, with a few less bells and whistles than the Stott (for example, it doesn’t come with a box, platform extender or foot strap) but at a lower price.
As for performance, the IQ Reformer doesn’t quite measure up to the Stott, particularly since the absence of some accessories somewhat limits the number of exercises which can be done.
However, the carriage rides smoothly, the springs provide good progressive resistance, the ropes can be adjusted easily via nautical cam cleats, and there are three adjustable headrest positions.
One thing that makes this Balanced Body product unique and a good choice for home users is its telescoping frame. When you’re using the reformer, you can extend it to full length, but when you want to put it away (using the convenient library wheels) it collapses for storage. One other thing we should note is that there is no stand for the Pilates IQ Reformer; it lies flat on the floor.
It’s not a Stott Reformer, but it’s the next best thing.
3. Stamina AeroPilates Pro XP556 / Pro XP557
For those who are not ready to shell out a couple of thousand bucks for a Pilates reformer, let us introduce you to the Stamina AeroPilates Pro XP556. Stamina makes a complete line of highly-respected Pilates reformers, and this is perhaps the best one for at-home use.
The frame on the Pro XP556 is heavy-duty steel and oak-finished wood with aluminum rails, and the carriage glides smoothly thanks to commercial-grade wheels.
The padding on this reformer is high-density foam and the headrest and footbar are both adjustable, making the experience comfortable and flexible. Two things which stood out to us are that the reformer is elevated (a little more than a foot) so you’re not flat on the ground, and it comes with a free-form cardio rebounder for no extra charge. There are two included DVDs with around 100 exercises detailed on them.
For the slightly taller person (or the person with a slightly deeper wallet who wants a bit more style thrown in) the Pro XP557 might be worth considering. The key difference between the XP557 and the XP556 is the inclusion of springs on the XP557, while the XP556 has elastic cords – springs will last longer than the elastic cords. Other notable differences are that the XP557 is 3.5 inches longer (to cater for the 9-inch aluminum rails rather than the 5-inch rails on the XP556), it has a slightly larger cardio rebounder, comes with furry hand and foot straps for a luxurious feel, and has a nicely finished wooden frame.
It was neck-and-neck for the second and third position on our list of the top 5 Pilates reformers; the Stamina just missed out because it uses elastic cords instead of springs, and thus seems a bit less durable than the IQ Reformer.
The much-lower price, though, might just make up for that. As mentioned if you wanted a reformer with springs you now have the option of the AeroPilates Pro XP557 as well as the IQ Reformer – compare the prices and features at the time of purchase and see which one meets your needs.
Specifications of the Stamina AeroPilates Pro XP556:
If you’ve been tempted by the “Total Gym” machine advertised on TV regularly, you’ll love the Weider Ultimate Body Works. It’s basically the same machine, it was designed by the publisher of Muscle and Fitness Magazine (who was also Arnold Schwarzenegger’s trainer) – and it’s much less expensive than even the cheapest version of the Total Gym. Admittedly, this machine isn’t quite as well-crafted, but it’s still durable and strong, and a terrific bargain.
You can do most of the exercises that you’ve learned in Pilates class on the Weider Ultimate Body Works; it easily adjusts to allow you to do nearly 100 different exercises, thanks to a robust cable-and-pulley system, variable incline and four adjustable bungee cord-style power bands that provide up to fifty additional pounds of resistance.
What you won’t find, though, are features like a reformer box or multiple footbar, headrest or glide bar stoppage positions. That makes the Weider more of a very good machine for Pilates, rather than a reformer specifically designed for them. Even so, everyone but Pilates wizards should be satisfied with this machine, which lets you add strength training to flexibility and mobility exercises in order to tone every muscle group. It folds up easily for storage.
Groom+Style’s review team decided to place this unit at #4 mostly because it’s designed to be a full home gym rather than a dedicated Pilates reformer. Nevertheless, it’s a very good piece of workout equipment at a great price.
Looking at the specs of the Weider Ultimate Body Works:
5. Bayou Total Fitness Total Trainer Pilates Pro Reformer Home Gym
This is a comfortable and very functional machine for the money.
It’s solid and durable. The one big drawback (other than the fact that it’s a bear to open and close if you want to store it) is that it’s designed to be “all things to all people” with strength attachments like an ab crunch strap, biceps curl bar, power weight bar, push-up and pull-up bar, and a squat board – a home gym as much as a dedicated reformer.
That makes the Pilates element of the Bayou Pro Reformer just one focus of the machine’s construction, so you can’t do anywhere near as many Pilates exercises as you can with some of our other choices. For that reason, as well as the facts that adjustments are severely limited and the elastic cords used to create resistance aren’t as strong as they could be, we’ve got it further down our rankings than dedicated reformers.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the Total Trainer, especially if you’re looking for one piece of equipment for a home gym at a remarkable price; many who love this product have used it to replace another “total gym.”
Those who have progressed beyond intermediate-level Pilates routines and want a dedicated Pilates reformer, though, may find themselves a bit disappointed.
A look at specs for the Bayou Total Fitness Total Trainer Pilates Pro Reformer Home Gym:
Nautilus CoreBody Reformer
* This item does not seem to be available on Amazon at the moment, please consider another option.
The CoreBody is another “combination” unit, but not in the same way as the Total Trainer. This reformer is aimed at three types of core exercises: yoga and dance, as well as Pilates. It’s lightweight, portable, inexpensive – and seems to us to be more of a starter or casual reformer than anything else.
We’ve already mentioned most of the positives; we’ll add that this unit (we can’t really call it a machine) is well-built for what it is, it comes with a DVD and flip cards showing four workouts with about 32 different exercises, and it’s convenient for those who are into dance.
Now for the negative: this is basically a four-foot foam roller with a pulley system utilizing straps and cords. A well-built foam roller with straps and cords, but that’s about it. If you’re in search of a studio-quality Pilates reformer – you’d do better checking out our other listings. Oh, and it’s also somewhat uncomfortable for some of the exercises.
Those who are only in search of something to provide resistance while they go through their workouts, though, will probably find this more than enough for their needs, particularly if they’re also into dance and yoga and want a unit they can take on vacation or onto the balcony. That’s why we’ve included the CoreBody. Many women who want a unit like this swear that it’s the best on the market.
The skinny on the Nautilus CoreBody Reformer:
- Reformer dimensions: 42 inches
- Adjustable: No
- Resistance: Elastic cords, 3 resistance levels
- User limitations: 300 pounds
- Warranty: One year, limited
This item is no longer on Amazon
If you are interested in learning more about pilates (and Yoga) then please read the detailed article prepared by your team at Groom+Style Yoga vs Pilates which is right for you. Otherwise, if you are searching for a gift for a loved one who is interested in health and fitness then please read our review of the top 20 best health and fitness gift ideas.