Reformer Pilates vs Mat Pilates

Interested in adding Reformer or Mat Pilates to your weekly schedule, but don't know where to begin? We've got you covered! One of our most commonly asked questions is "What is the difference between Mat Pilates and Reformer Pilates?" We're assuming if you landed on this page that you must be asking yourself the same question. Well you are in luck because this blog post is just for you! Keep scrolling to find out which class is for you!

What is Pilates?

According to the PMA (Pilates Method Alliance), "Pilates is a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body." With an instructor-led class full of systematic movements and breathing exercises, Pilates has been proven both effective both as a weekly workout routine and as physical rehabilitation from previous injuries of all kinds!

Both Mat and Reformer Pilates are beneficial to building core strength as well as toning muscles.  Both classes train you to start your movements from your core, which will allow you to quickly translate all the benefits across your day-to-day functional activities. While the same series of exercises can be performed on both the Reformer and the mat, the workouts are notably different. 

What is Reformer Pilates? 

The Reformer is a traditional piece of Pilates equipment that acts as a support system for the body as it by helps to keep your body in its proper form.  Resistance is added to the Pilates exercises through the use of springs attached to part of the machine.  Depending on where you'd like to build strength or if you'd like to challenge or stabilize your muscles, adding or taking away springs is a key component to your results.  Through the use of resistance on the Reformer, combined with the props, Reformer Pilates allows people of all age ranges and experience levels to safely complete exercises. 

What is Mat Pilates? 

Pilates mat work is the basis for the entire Pilates series of exercises.  Mat Pilates is a great place to start if you'd like to learn the basics in order to build more control and confidence before hopping on the Reformer. (We also offer private Pilates lessons in our private studio room if you would like to receive some 1 on 1 attention and to learn all the basics from one of our instructors) In general, a traditional Pilates mat class will work your legs, stomach, lower and upper back muscles.  On the mat, your body weight provides resistance against gravity, making the workout more challenging in many cases. This is different than the Reformer because the springs provide the resistance, but on the mat, your body weight provides the resistance. Joseph Pilates first created the original series of mat exercises, and then all the supporting apparatus and equipment was created afterward in order to help students get deeper into the postures and strengthen the core to be able to work up to the full mat repertoire.

This might sound easier than the Reformer, but don't be fooled. Mat classes can be the hardest because you’re using your body all the time without a machine assisting or supporting you throughout the class. Many clients see results (improved strength, posture, agility, flexibility, toned muscles) within just a few mat sessions.

Join us for a Class!

We hope this helped give you a little insight into Mat Pilates vs. Reformer Pilates! We'd love to have you in for a class soon! Click HERE to take a look at our schedule and sign up for one of our classes. We've also attached a video with a look into our studio HERE!


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