Different types of Pilates equipment
Pilates equipment can get a little confusing. There are several types to choose from. You’ve got Reformers, there’s the mat, you have different types of barrels. There’s an electric chair, there’s a high chair, there’s an arm chair, there’s a guillotine and a Cadillac. Is it medieval torture devices or is it workout equipment? Well, it’s actually workout equipment. And it’s really amazing. We have all these different options to choose from, and many more that I haven’t mentioned yet. Not only do they strengthen your body, but they help you meet your body’s needs for the goals that you have. And different pieces of equipment might be necessary for where your practice is.
Hi, I’m Lesley Logan, co-founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com™. I’ve been doing Pilates since 2005, teaching it since 2008. In fact, one of my teachers trained with Joseph Pilates so I really love Pilates, I love talking about it, I love nerding out about it. You can ask me anything in the comments below.
We’re going to talk about the different types of Pilates equipment today. There’s the mat, which is what Joseph Pilates created first. You can actually check it out in his amazing book “Return to Life“. Then there’s all these other pieces of equipment. And I want to discuss the pros and cons. Not really a lot of cons, but maybe why you do that piece of equipment versus why you wouldn’t at the time of your practice. I’m currently working on an entire video about all of my favorite pieces of equipment that you should buy and why, so make sure you subscribe to this channel, and click the notification button so you don’t miss out on that video or anything else they put out for you.
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What is a Pilates Reformer?
So first, let’s talk about what the Pilates reformer is. So this is what a classical reformer looks like. And if you want to know more about my advice around choosing a reformer for yourself, we do have a video about that. But the reformer is not the first piece of equipment that Joseph Pilates made. The mat was the first thing that he made him. Yes, I call the mat a piece of equipment. But the reformer really does help us get better with the mat. And so when you’re choosing a reformer, you want to make sure that first of all, it fits you. So if you’re a little more fun sized, you don’t want one of those big reformers. And if you’re a little taller, you don’t want child size. You want to just get one that actually works for your body, that has springs that help support you.
So on the mat, we actually have nothing to help us but ourselves, where the reformer, in its name and says reforming, it actually closes the chain. So meaning our feet are touching something a lot of times, our shoulders are touching something, we have feedback from the carriage, we have these handles that can help us provide feedback and connect our arms to our back. So when you’re doing the reformer, the idea is that it’s actually teaching your body things that it needs to be able to do when you don’t have these springs. Because after all, in life, we don’t walk around having springs and pulleys to help us do things. You can’t just reach for top shelf without a spring, right. So we have we have the mat that helps us do that. So the reformer is helping you make the connections so you can do it on the mat, so you can do it in life better.
So this is a Contrology® Reformer. It’s made by Balanced Body®. In fact, a lot of the pieces of equipment that I love are going to be in the links below. You can actually get an affiliate link for me so you can go shopping. By the way, we actually have several full reformer workouts that you can choose from here on our channel, so make sure you’ve subscribed. Go check them out. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. Otherwise, next up is a Cadillac. Continue reading!
What is a Pilates Cadillac?
All right. So the Cadillac. This piece of equipment is kind of a beast and really the one that looks like the medieval torture chamber because you can hang off of it. It’s got springs, it’s got pulleys, it’s got all the good stuff. And I personally love it. In fact, I find that the Cadillac can be one of the greatest pieces to use when you’re trying to learn a new exercise in a Pilates practice, or learn a concept. If you’re struggling with connecting your legs to your center. The leg springs are going to help you do it. If you’re struggling to connect your arms to your back, the arm springs are going to help you do that. Trying to figure out how not to sink when you’re rounding forward and backward, the push thru bar has got you covered.
There’s some exercise on this piece of equipment that’s going to help teach the other exercises you need to make the mat work better. And therefore make everything you’d like to do in your life better. Super, super fun. And the Cadillac gives us this awesome railing at the top that allows us to do fun things there if you have high enough ceilings. I currently don’t have high enough ceilings to do all the things I want to do. But we’re working on it because it is such an awesome thing that you can do.
My Cadillac is made by Contrology®. It does have the toy box option, which opens up and has a nice little storage container. In fact, Contrology® is the only one that has a toy box option. There are lots of Cadillacs by different brands out there. But again, I love my Contrology® one because the dimensions are like the oldest Cadillac that my teacher had. And the springs are designed the same way so they’re nice and heavy without pushing you around. You could really work with them and it allows you to make the exercises work for you. And that’s what the Cadillac really, really does.
It was not always called the Cadillac. It used to be called the trap table, aka the trapeze table, because this would come down and you could do all of these things. But, the urban legend is that some client of Joe’s called it the Cadillac because obviously, this is way back when the Cadillac was the car with all the options. So I guess now someone would call it like the G Wagon, or something like that. It was just that, that’s what it was. And I find it really a fun story to share.
Pros and cons of Pilates Cadillac
So pros and cons, I’ve already said how much I love it. So there’s a lot of pros about this, which is like, it’s just gonna meet you where you are, and take you to your next level, period, end of story. The cons are that it’s quite a big piece of equipment, doesn’t always fit in everyone’s household. Although I will argue with you because I have a girlfriend who’s got one in her living room, she’s put pillows on it so it’s a couch when you’re there. This is an extra bedroom in my house. So I think you can fit one in, but I get it, some people don’t have the space. So that would be a con to it. But that’s why there’s a tower and I’ll talk about that in a minute.
Got access to a Cadillac? Want to feel what it’s like to work out on one? Then take a Cadillac workout, 50-minutes long, it’s going to move all the parts of your body, really tighten up your center and work you from head to toe. So you can buy a-la-carte here.
What is a Pilates Tower?
Alright, let’s look at the tower. Basically, it’s as if you just cut off one end of my Cadillac took everything that was on that and moved it over here. So you have a lots of hooks, lots of stuff going on. And then you have the same bed. Is the tower a space saver? Not really. It definitely works in spaces where your ceilings are lower, but you’re still going to have a similar length bed as a Cadillac, and you’re still going to have all of the stuff on one side. So it is an option for those people who either want to save a little bit of money because they can be less expensive, or they don’t have the high ceilings that I have.
Now, here’s the other thing. Some towers come with reformers. And you’ll see that often happening. So you get a reformer and a tower combined. There are many pros and cons to that. And we can go deeper into that in another video with all this explained, that means you have one piece of equipment that is really two pieces of equipment. It doesn’t exactly allow you to have two different people working out at the same time. But if it’s your own personal use, you just have to be comfortable with putting it back together, putting the heavy mat on and then taking the heavy mat off, putting everything in place for a reformer. And so a lot of the people on OPC, they have a tower reformer combo. And that makes it really nice.
There’s also towers that are wall units. So literally, they’re attached to a wall. And so those are absolute space savers, because you can just lift the mat up, and then it’s just a piece of equipment on your wall, you always want to make sure it’s securely attached. So the tower has all the benefits of a Cadillac except for obviously, we can’t do the hanging stuff on top. So you do lose out about 15 exercises that you could do on a Cadillac. But other than that, it’s still going to help you meet you where you are, get to the connections you need to do exercise on the reformer and the mat work better and then therefore do your life better. So really a lot of options when it comes to the tower.
What I suggest you do is check out the link on our perks page and check out the Contrology® tower reformer combo because what I love about it, is that you can actually put the handles from the mat on their tower mats, then you have a classical mat, then you have the tower, and you can take all of that off and you have the Contrology® Reformer. But also Balanced Body®, who made the Contrology® equipment, they have a lot of tower and Cadillacs options, and wall unit options, you can check out all of those and see which one is gonna work best for you. If you have questions about it, put it in the comments below. I do like to help make sure that people pick these equipment, ideally not on price, but based on the goals that you have. Coming soon I’m going to have a whole video just on the Pilates Cadillac versus a Pilates tower, so make sure you so you don’t miss that.
Different types of Pilates Chairs
Alright, let’s talk about these chairs. So we’ve got three of them and they are awesome. In fact, you can see them in your living room, can’t you? You can see them in your space. You could have any one of these or all of these like I do. I love them.
What is a Pilates High Hair?
So we’ll talk about the electric chair first. Also known as the high chair, the electric chair was what its name was in Joe’s studio, which obviously is a little scary. So high chair it is. When you are looking for one of these for yourself, you do want to have this awesome wooden backboard. You want it to be heavy. Why? Because many of the exercises you’re gonna do on here are really going to train you up for a Wunda chair. Now that doesn’t mean if you don’t have access to this, you can’t use a Wunda chair. Absolutely, you can go straight to the Wunda chair. There are some prep exercises we filmed on our channel, but the sturdier it is with this nice heavy spring, the better for your practice and for teaching you what you need. Now, when you are using the high chair, you can also remove this lovely pad and you can see that there are guides here. These guides help you to know where to put your feet, so really amazing. Can’t make a mistake with it. You’re gonna feel really safe doing exercises on here. And it’s gonna prepare you for your Wunda chair.
What is a Pilates Wunda Chair?
Now, as I mentioned, you don’t have to have a high chair, to use a Wunda chair. This Wunda chair is my favorite all one a chairs is a Contrology® Wunda Chair. It’s got a really amazing spring, and you can actually change the spring setting to fit the needs you have for the exercise you’re doing. In fact, that is one of the pros to the Wunda chair – there are several different spring settings. And so you can change the spring to meet your needs. I might need a middle spring, you might need a top spring and that allows you to make the chair meet you where you are, and get you the connections you want to have. Plus, it challenges you. It’s very different. As you can see, compared to the Cadillac, the chairs have a smaller surface area, I dive deeper into what that means and how that affects you in my mastering the basics workshops.
However, the Wunda chair (this is a Contrology® chair made by Balanced Body®, you can check out on our links below), this particular chair as Pilates equipment goes… when it comes to, “Can I afford a reformer?”, “Should I get a tower?”, or “That combo unit seems expensive”, you can get a Wunda chair. They’re not terribly expensive, you can put it in a corner of your room, pull it out, give yourself a really nice long workout, and then move on with your day to allow your Pilates practice to be where you are, right? We actually do have a Wunda chair workout every month. So make sure you check that out a-la-carte here.
What is a Pilates Arm Chair?
Then we also have what’s known as the baby chair or arm chair. I call it the arm chair. When was called the baby chair, a lot of people put the baby chair in the corner and it’s like, “Don’t put baby in the corner”, use the chair. So this arm chair, you want to find one that moves with you. This is a Contrology® Arm Chair, I’m obsessed with it. Here’s why. You can actually take this out and have a second option for the angle of this chair, which makes you work in a much deeper and different way. And again, it teaches you a tall back in your Pilates exercises. And you can lean forward, the Chair will go with you. It’s really quite amazing. We’ll see that in the tutorials we have.
And so when you’re picking a chair, of course, I’d love for you to have all of them, but if you can only have one, I’m going to say get the oWunda chair first. And then when you have space or the money, get yourself the arm chair. Again, they don’t take up a lot of space. But I went without a high chair for a year in my life. And then I found this one I was like, “What have I been doing my whole life!” So they have a lot of reasons to use them. If you have question about which one is the right one for you, put some comments and questions down below and I will answer them on our next YouTube Live.
Different types of Pilates Barrels
Alright, let’s talk about the barrels, well, you’ve got several to choose from, and they all meet you in different ways. So which one is right for you? It’s gonna depend on what your practices and what you’re looking for right now.
What is a Pilates Ladder Barrel?
Alright, so we’ll start with the ladder barrel, because I just, I love this. You have a ladder and a barrel. And it really allows you to not only have some amazing supportive extension exercises, there’s also some stretches you can do on here. And then this is where you can really learn your swan. If you’ve been struggling on the reformer, they’ll learn it here and it’s gonna change your life.
What is a Pilates Small Barrel?
All right, then we have this small barrel, I love the small barrel for my peeps who are a little more fun size, because you can do the arm series and the leg series on this. You can also swim, rock, grasshopper. What you won’t be able to do is what you need a step for, which is why the spine corrector can be really great.
What is a Pilates Spine Corrector?
The spine corrector has two options for you to do your arm series on and one option for your legs series. But the hump is much higher. So it does fit a taller body better for those reasons. So it kind of gets hard, like which barrel do you need… it’s like, well, it depends on the length of your spine, what your goals are, what you’re working on. But each one of these is can be a great tool to warm up or end a session with. I had a friend who would do her arm series on the spine corrector every day. And then she did her reformer practice or her mat practice because it really would help her connect her arms to her back teach her body that extension, you know. Those of you who spend your time forward folded over your desk, spine corrector is going to be the thing that you need. Whereas the ladder barrel, the bigger beast, a little more stable. And you can really teach yourself some things like leg circles, right?
What are the Swedish bars?
I want to point out this ladder. So this ladder is awesome. There’s things you can do to hold on to it and really work some stretches. But there’s also a ladder that can go on a wall. Swedish bars are also known as a Gibson ladder. I don’t have one yet. I can’t wait to have one on my space. What’s nice about that is you can see it’s all the different bars, you can do different things like prepare for your star on there. You can hang upside down like a bat. You can also hang from the top rung and do those legs circles that you would do over on a Cadillac. So if you don’t have a Cadillac, maybe you have a tower, if you get those Swedish bars, you could do some of the things you couldn’t do because of the Cadillac missing from your tower. So really awesome options. Grab a barrel, everyone needs at least one if not two, so spine corrector or ladder barrel is my choice. If you’re a little on the shorter side, get yourself a small barrel. Contrology® does have a ladder barrel, so check that out on our perks page.
Pilates Ped-O-Pul and Pilates Guillotine
Alright, finally we want to talk about the Ped-O-Pul, guillotine, some of these other little tools just to wrap this up so you have full knowledge of all this type of equipment. And we can even talk about some of the other little things.
What is a Pilates Guillotine?
But here’s when we talk about guillotine. I don’t have one yet, however, you gotta get one, if you have a house where you can like, plug it into the ceiling, strap it to the floor, like it’s a beast. It’s not going to move, which I’m used to move my equipment around. So I’ve got to build myself a space where I can have a guillotine, it’s got a lot of options. In fact, there’s some exercises we do on the Cadillac that we do them there because they were done on the guillotine. And not a lot of people have access to a guillotine, but they’re way better on a guillotine – I’m looking at you monkey on a stick – way better on a guillotine. So if you can have space for that, grab it. It also is really revealing on imbalances in your legs. Because of the way the springs work, you can get stuck and go oh, my right leg is the one that’s pushing more than my left. So super awesome piece of equipment.
What is a Pilates Ped-O-Pul?
The Ped-O-Pul. This one actually, look at how little space it takes up. Not a lot of space, you just have to have regular size ceilings. It’s also known as the Ped-O-Pul or the Pedi-Pole, you can spell it any way you want. We’ve researched, everyone does both directions. So here’s the deal about the Ped-O-Pul, it’s got arm springs, just like you would have on your Cadillac, right? But you don’t want to just pull on this. You’ve got to be standing on this platform because it is unstable for a reason. You don’t want your Ped-O-Pul to be plugged into a wall, you’re just creating yourself a Cadillac standing arm spring unit, right? This is supposed to be unstable, and you know scare ya a little bit. But it really helps you learn how to balance and reach into your legs, work your arms, your back. And what do we have to do that for? Because I have to stand up here on my own two feet, and I’ve got to stand on the muscles on my legs, I have to have my arm connected to my back. We don’t want to be like this. The Ped-O-Pul is a super awesome piece of equipment that can help teach you that and doesn’t take up a lot of room. You can get the Contrology® one like I have. The link is below. It’s really amazing. Joseph Pilates… The rumor is he created this for an opera singer, because she needed to learn how to like get her breath and her lungs and her width better, and have her arms worked from her back. It’s great story. So grab yourself a Ped-O-Pul. I really enjoy it.
What is a Pilates Toe Corrector?
Now let’s talk about some other little pieces that could be really fun. The toe corrector. Yeah, I said it – toe corrector. What’s so cool about this toe corrector is that it actually can work the muscles of your feet and connect them to your seat. Now this one is by Balanced Body®, I really enjoy it. It’s got two different spring settings, I picked the heavier one. But you can really work through the toes help strengthen your feet, aka, pull that big toe back in line where that little piggy is supposed to be and work the arches of your feet, plus build your seat so it’s going to connect your feet to your seat. Awesome tool you can use for traveling.
What is a Pilates Breath-a-Cizer?
This is a breath-a-cizer. It really does make you work your breath evenly. I’m still working on it. You would have a little straw here and you’d blow into it. Just a really fun thing to do. And there’s some exercises you can do practicing using your lungs because Joseph Pilates wanted us to use our lungs. Above all else, you must learn how to breathe. Right? So that’s the breath-a-cizer.
What is a Pilates Foot Corrector?
And then finally, let’s talk about the foot corrector. Oh yeah, I love this. So it’s not about leaning into it. You’re working your feet, you’re connecting your feet to your seat. There’s different ways you can use it, you can have your heel on it, and you can work your heel into your seat. And it reveals, like if it makes a screeching sound, that tells me that I’ve rolled out on my ankle of some way. So it really helps you work evenly through your heel or evenly to the balls of your feet and trains your feet to connect to the rest of your body.
What Pilates equipment do you need?
So as I talked about before the beginning this video, what Pilates equipment do you need? Well, it’s gonna depend on your goals. As you can see some of these things you may have never seen before, but they can be super effective for what you need. Do you spend a lot of time rounded forward over a baby or a child or a desk? Use a spine corrector, might need a ladder barrel, right? Do you need a practicing being tall in front of a group of people? Get yourself a Ped-O-Pul? Do you need to really engage your arms into your body, your legs into your body? Get yourself onto a Cadillac or a tower. The reformer is a great way to flow in your workout. If you’re needing to build up endurance, you want to have that.
What is a Pilates Mat?
And then we haven’t even talked about how the mat is a piece of equipment, the mat. The mat is a piece of equipment, a mat with handles and a strap is what you need. You’ll see me in all of my videos working on a Contrology® Mat. This is key. For you to really see it. I think people think the mat is less than because you people are just doing a yoga mat. But Joseph Pilates had a mat as a piece of an apparatus with the handles on the strap. And so I really encourage you. If you want Pilates to be something that you do weekly, that you’re doing multiple times a week, or even daily. The mat is a piece of equipment and all this equipment I’ve shown you it’s great, but it doesn’t compare to how the mat is going to put you in the strongest version of your body and teach how your body works, how to move on its own. So I love a spring. I love the feedback a pole or strap can give me. But I also, it’s important that you feel these exercises in your body without the help of springs and pulleys and straps. And actually use your own body on a mat and show yourself what you’re actually capable of doing, because it’s going to help you do life better.
Help you bring Pilates into your practice
Thank you so much for watching this, I hope this was helpful. I hope it explained a lot of pieces of equipment and maybe why we have them. I’d love to know what your favorite part was, or what piece of equipment you want to get yourself. And again, ask those questions below. If you haven’t subscribed to this channel, I hope that you now do because I can’t wait to show you more things about Pilates that you haven’t heard about before, and help you bring Pilates into your practice. If you’d like to try any of my classes out, yes, we have some on the channel, but over on OnlinePilatesClasses.com™, we actually really do have weekly classes and monthly classes that help you understand and become your own teacher on the equipment. And then we also will look at your form and how you’re using the equipment. So maybe you’re a little bit off to the side or maybe not using the equipment correctly. I can give you that feedback. That’s nothing you can’t get here. You can’t get on any other on-demand platform. So give our free trial a go! And next time I’ll see you here. Thank you so much have an amazing day.