Mat Versus Reformer Pilates: What’s the Difference

reformer vs. mat pilates (1)

Pilates is guaranteed to strengthen, tone, and lengthen your muscles. And you’ll definitely
feel it in your core. After all, the basics of Pilates focus on a balanced and strong foundation.
Yet, there are a variety of different types of Pilates. Two of the most talked-about types are
Mat Pilates and Reformer Pilates. Both of these methods help you strengthen your body and
your core. In turn, you’ll find you are able to perform your day-to-day activities with ease.
Plus, you’ll improve your overall health and well-being by reaping the benefits that
movement and exercise have to offer.
As similar as they are, these two types of Pilates also couldn’t be more different. If you go to
a Reformer Pilates class, you’ll get a considerably different workout than you would at a Mat
Pilates class.

But, how are they different? Let us explain.

Mat Pilates Explores the Basics

And that doesn’t mean it’s not going be the toughest Pilates workout you’ve ever done.
Essentially, Mat Pilates uses a mat and your bodyweight to challenge your muscles.
In fact, the foundational movements in Pilates are frequently performed on a mat. For
instance, The Hundred, The Roll Up, The Rollover, and other basic Pilates exercises are
typically performed without other equipment. It’s just you and your mat. Throughout the
movements, you resist gravity – and an emphasis is placed on control without relying on
external tools or resources (which are often used in other types of Pilates, such as Reformer
versions).You’ll work your core, legs, back, and more. It’s suitable for beginners – especially due to its
emphasis on controlling your movement and muscles – but it’s also a great workout for
Pilates veterans. Most individuals notice improvements in only a few sessions.

Reformer Pilates Adds Resistance

Pilates was created by a man named Joseph Pilates – hence the name. He is also the
inventor of the most popular Pilates equipment piece, the Reformer.
During World War I, Joseph Pilates briefly worked as a nurse. During this time, he
discovered a way for patients to perform their exercises in bed by attaching springs to it. This
device was an early version of the Reformer.

Today, the Reformer is used in Pilates studios worldwide. It is a bit daunting to look at
initially – but it provides an effective and surprisingly fun way to workout. The springs on the
machine add resistance to movements. These springs can be added or removed to increase
or decrease resistance based on the type of workout you want. By adding more springs, you
work the bigger muscle groups. By reducing the number of springs, you work the smaller
and more stabilising muscles. This means it can be adjusted for those with injuries or certain

Reformer Pilates can also up your exercise game. If you find Mat Pilates isn’t cutting it
anymore, the Reformer can provide an additional challenge for continual progression. Or if
you find Mat Pilates is hard on your lower back, Reformer Pilates might provide options that
are better suited for you and your body. You’ll improve your core strength, leg strength,
posture, flexibility, endurance, balance, and more.
Which Version Should You Do?

At Reform Studios, we recommend trying them both. They have similar benefits. And they
both are equally challenging. For example, an advanced Mat Pilates class can be tougher
than a Reformer Class. However, you can set the resistance on the Reformer to challenge
yourself, which could potentially be more challenging than a Mat class. The decision is

Mix it up. Try both Mat and Reformer Pilates throughout your week. Keep your workout
interesting and exciting. Then, watch your body and mind transform. Book your class today!

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