I've bought a lot of Pilates equipment over the years, and most recently purchased a reformer. Today I share what I look for when purchasing equipment, what I take into account before buying something, and some of my recommendations for props and apparatus. Tune in!
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Hello and welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can support the podcast by visiting buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts. Let's learn something new.
[00:00:46] Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. Today we're going to be talking about buying Pilates equipment for use in your home. This episode is really [00:01:00] inspired by the fact that just recently I purchased a reformer for use in my home and it hasn't arrived yet, but it will be here soon. And I will show you lots of pictures cause I'm very excited, but even for smaller pieces of equipment, whether it's things like resistance bands or a magic circle or yoga blocks or props that you might use for your Pilates practice at home, like even your mat. I do have a couple of thoughts about those things and I wanted to share my experience when I've bought equipment from the reformer to the looped resistance bands that I use, just what I've learned and things to look for, things to think about before you buy anything for your home gym.
[00:01:46] An investment in any piece of equipment is going to be worth it if you're going to use it. The reason I hadn't bought a reformer earlier, even though I've been teaching Pilates for a hot second and doing [00:02:00] Pilates for a hot second, but the reason I hadn't bought one is that I didn't need one. I wasn't going to use one. I was spending a lot of time in studios that had reformers and I could just use those reformers. So this episode isn't telling you what things you need to buy, because you don't really need to buy anything, but it is sharing things to think about if you do decide to buy something.
[00:02:28] My personal situation is changing. I did spend a lot of time in studios, but now I'm going to be doing more virtual Pilates stuff. Even more than I was already doing, which was about 50/50 of my schedule. It's going to be shifting a hundred percent online in October, and I, you know, wouldn't have access to the reformer to either use or teach. And I'm also going to be doing a teacher training program that is online. [00:03:00] I also need a reformer for that. So, because my situation changed and my likelihood of using it changed, that's why I took that plunge.
[00:03:09] So when I was looking for a reformer, I went down quite the rabbit hole, and I just want to share what I've learned if you are in the market for a reformer. So there's two different styles of reformers broadly. There's a classical and there's contemporary reformer. The classical reformer is, I don't know, is it taller? I don't know if I can say it's taller, but it does have a set frame. That's either wood or aluminum. It uses leather straps instead of cords. It has, you know, different spring. There's four standard springs on a classical reformer. There aren't risers on the back of the reformer. So there aren't little sticks that the pulleys are on that lift [00:04:00] the pulleys off of the reformer. The pulleys are like right inside at the back corners of the frame furthest away from the carriage. They usually have wooden handles as well.
[00:04:11] And then contemporary reformers are, I don't even know if opposite is the right thing. And, but they're, they're not that. They may have different heights. They might sit on the ground. They might have legs. They may use cords or, you know, different straps for hands and feet. There's usually risers on them so that the pulleys are a little bit elevated. The springs, I mean, they could all be the same spring, but they also have different resistances. The carriage is organized a little bit differently. They could also be, you know, aluminum frame or wood-frame. They could have, you know, headrests that lift and lower, um, foot bar, you know, multiple foot bar positions. I mean, a classical also has that. There's a [00:05:00] very clear picture in my head, which I am not articulating very well, but I'll share more and hopefully that will fully form an idea at some point.
[00:05:10] Prices for reformers can vary greatly from 600 US dollars to 8,000 US dollars. And the durability of the reformer, it's not exactly correlated with price, but, in some of those less expensive reformers, they might use rubber cords instead of springs for the resistance. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Those rubber cords do eventually, especially if you live in a dry place, they will snap eventually. Um, so do the springs, um, but it takes them a little bit longer because they're metal.
[00:05:50] The length of reformers can vary greatly anything from, you know, 93 inches or about 236 centimeters on the [00:06:00] small side to 127 inches or 322 centimeters.
[00:06:06] So depending on a, how tall you are and how- like are you going to be jumping on your reformer? You know, depending on the use that you have for this reformer, that might also impact how long of a reformer you want. Aluminum frame wood frame, some reformers have wheels, so you can roll them around kind of like a wheelbarrow. They may have legs that lift them off of the ground. They may rest right on the ground. The legs may be fixed in the case of the classical reformers, the wooden legs are not detachable or attachable. That's just how tall the reformer is. Some reformers fold or telescope into themselves to get smaller. I mentioned that you could have a woven cord for straps or leather straps.
[00:06:57] And also depending on the reformer [00:07:00] type and the company, the wait time for between ordering the reformer and then receiving the reformer could be anywhere from a month to eight months to a year. Like there were some long wait times out there. Part of that's probably supply chain COVID issues, but reformers are generally made to order. So there aren't just a warehouse of reformers lying around, waiting for you to purchase one.
[00:07:24] The biggest factors influencing my decision about the reformer that I got were definitely budget. I would love to drop eight grand on a reformer, but I also would not. Um, the space constraints that I have, the room that is in my house that I use as a studio is a finite size. And the organization that I have with the room, you know, is this reformer going to stay there the whole time? Is it going to get, you know, stood up on its side? Is it going to need to move into another room? Like, how is all of that going to work?
[00:07:59] [00:08:00] Because the teacher training program that I'm starting in October starts in October, when the reformer was going to get to me is also a consideration, as well as previous experience with reformers, the reformers that I've practiced on and learned Pilates on and taught Pilates on. And I just knew that I wanted to have springs versus a rubber cord. That's just what I'm going to be able to use more comfortably and I know it's going to be more durable.
[00:08:32] The reformers that I didn't decide to get were not bad reformers, but they weren't a good fit for those deciding factors that I mentioned. The reformer I decided to go with was a Balanced Body Metro IQ reformer, which is their little baby telescoping reformer that sits on the ground and can fit under your bed or fold up and fit in your closet. The portability is [00:09:00] really useful to me, as well as having that spring setting, and Balanced Body being a company that I have some experience with in terms of using lots of different styles of their reformer, their springs and just their general equipment.
[00:09:15] So that's what worked for me at this point in my life. And as soon as it comes, I will be sharing lots of pictures of it, so look forward to it. Coming up after the break, I'm going to be sharing things to consider when you're purchasing other pieces of equipment, as well as some opinions that I have on equipment. Yeah, that's coming up next.
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[00:10:36] The main point that I really want to drive home when it comes to buying any sort of Pilates equipment is that, are you going to use it? Because if you are, that's fantastic. And if you're not, then you don't need it, [00:11:00] especially when you're buying equipment that you're not super familiar with or comfortable with using on your own.
[00:11:07] You may want to, you know, ask yourself, like, am I working with a teacher that would be able to use this piece of equipment with me? Or are you watching videos? Do you have maybe a membership site? Are you watching videos on YouTube where you would feel comfortable at least following along with some instruction?
[00:11:29] Or do you feel comfortable enough that if you had this piece of equipment, that you would be able to use it on your own without a teacher? But then a followup question to that is, are you going to use it, like, do you have the discipline to really use this piece of equipment if you don't have someone telling you to use it? And that's not a criticism, I definitely do not have the discipline to just do an exercise because I have the piece of equipment.
[00:11:59] The only [00:12:00] reason I bought a reformer is because I needed it for this online teacher training, that because you aren't going into the studio to do the teacher training, you need to have your own equipment to use. Like, that's why I bought a reformer. Not because I knew I would do a reformer workout every day, knowing my personality, knowing my schedule, knowing me, I know that that wouldn't happen.
[00:12:21] I do want to share some thoughts about, you know, specific pieces of equipment, starting with mats. They say, you know, for Pilates, all you really need is a mat. Everything else is an accessory prop. Mats come down to a lot of personal preference, the same way you may even have like an aesthetic that you're looking for on your reformer. You're going to have some preferences about your mat. For me, I look for mats that are durable. I went through a phase in my yoga practice where I was buying a new mat like every year, because I was just destroying the mats that I had. So when I get a mat, I actually want [00:13:00] it to last for a really, really long time.
[00:13:02] I don't personally like the really thick foam that your hands kind of sink into. It makes planking or exercises on hands and knees feel really uncomfortable for me. Um, part of that is I think because my wrist flexion isn't super large. So when I'm have my palms flat on the ground, I don't like my, like the base of my palm to be lower than my knuckles. That feels really uncomfortable in my forearms. So I prefer something that I can push into more, a little bit firmer type of mat.
[00:13:34] I'm also not a gigantic fan of like mats that have really strong smell. And that is super subjective, but for me like the natural rubber mats to sound like a really strong, rubber smell that I don't like in my face when I'm doing my swan dive and stuff like that. I think that some of my preferences come from my experience doing yoga on mats for a longer time that I've done Pilates on mats.[00:14:00]
[00:14:00] So I can tell you that the mat that I love is about 20 pounds or like nine kilograms. That is a very hefty mat. Um, and I even double it up. I have two mats that I work on because in Pilates, of course, we're rolling around, we're rocking back and forth on our spine. We're lying on our side, lying on our front kind of positions that you may want a little bit of extra cushion.
[00:14:21] So the mat that I love and I'm not an affiliate for, but I should be because I own like six of their mats is the Manduka pro mat series. I absolutely love them. The thickness of the mat, the firmness of the mat, and really the durability. The mats are expensive. They're more than a hundred US dollars, but they last forever. They last forever. The mats that I have, I've been using for like 10 years, and I have them more for like color preferences, than this one's tired and now I need a new one.
[00:14:54] You, of course, are going to have a mat that fits your need. You may already have one, or if the time is [00:15:00] now that you need to get a new one, just keep those kinds of things in mind. Like, what do you look for in a mat? What is most comfortable for you? What do you want your mat experience to be?
[00:15:11] As far as other smaller pieces of equipment? Um, everything from ankle weights that can be, you know, really helpful in your roll ups, plus, you know, adding additional weight to any of the work you're doing with your legs, same thing with wrist weights, or those weighted balls that I think are so cool. But again, I'm asking myself, am I going to use these or do I just think they're really cool?
[00:15:33] For resistance bands, whether they're straps or cords or they have handles or they're loops, all of those things can be fantastic. You can add them into any of your exercise adventures. One thing to just know about them is that they don't last forever. Eventually the straps can get dry and cracked and they can snap. It is a good practice to kind of check them before you use them, [00:16:00] especially if they're getting a little bit older and it's okay that they're going to eventually stop being helpful to you, because I mean, Springs do that too. Everything has some wear and tear and eventually you will have to get a new one, but that is just something to keep in mind.
[00:16:16] All of the other pieces of equipment, whether it's the magic circle or foam rollers. I mean, so much of it comes down to personal preference and you know, what is comfortable for you? What is feasible for your budget? Um, what are you going to use? Like all of those things really go into it and you can get these pieces of equipment, almost anywhere. You can get them on Amazon or at, you know, specific manufacturers' websites, places like, you know, Balanced Body makes a bunch of props, and Gratz makes a bunch of props. You know, everyone has their supplementary stuff that they do. If you really want to deep dive, there's a company called O P T P that makes everything. And you can just [00:17:00] see like how many props there are.
[00:17:02] You can either get what you've used before at the studio, or you can ask your teachers, especially if you're doing like online or virtual classes and you're working with a teacher, like, is there a prop that they would recommend that you have so that you can use in your sessions? Things like that. Every piece of equipment has a use and you can use in your Pilates adventuring. And so just like you don't want the expensive treadmill or Peloton bike that you bought to become a very expensive clothes rack, you just want to make sure that whatever you are deciding to purchase is something that is going to really enhance your Pilates practice that you're going to enjoy, and that you're going to use. And I can't wait to show you my new reformer. Yay.
[00:17:52] I want to say a big thank you to all my supporters on Buy Me a Coffee, especially to our newest member, Katherine. Thank you so much [00:18:00] for your support and for contributing and being part of this project. I will be sending out the September newsletter this week if I haven't done so already. And I really look forward to chatting with you and just catching up and seeing what's going on. Have a great couple of weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.
[00:18:28] Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. Be sure to check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates, too? Check out Pilates Teachers' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts. I hope to see you next episode. Until next time.[00:19:00]