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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Pilates Arc Barrels

Inside: If you’re shopping for a Pilates Arc barrel, you might feel lost. Which barrel is best? As a certified Pilates instructor, I know what you want to find in a Pilates Arc barrel. Here’s my guide to find the best Arc (Pilates) for home.

When I decided to take my Pilates practice to the next level, the first piece of equipment I added was an Arc barrel. The Pilates Arc barrel adds modifications for mat exercises as well as some new exercises that aren’t part of the standard mat routine. Plus, it’s easy to store (unlike the Reformer and other larger pieces of equipment).

Although there aren’t a ton of choices when you’re shopping for an Arc barrel, each barrel has its differences, and you want to choose the Arc that’s best for you. Let me help you. With over 10 years as a certified Pilates instructor, I know what you want to find in an Arc barrel.

Let’s get shopping!

There are three main manufacturers:  Balanced Body, Elina Sports, and STOTT PILATES. Each of these manufacturers offers unique Arc barrels with pros and cons.

Personally, I have (and love) the STOTT PILATES MERRITHEW Arc Barrel. When I shopped, I chose this model for several reasons:

  1. The shape of the barrel is significant enough to stretch my upper back but not so drastic that it hurts.
  2. I was trained on STOTT equipment, so I was already familiar with it.
  3. As a STOTT instructor, you receive a discount on their products.

Although I have a personal bias toward STOTT equipment, here is a fair review of the top five Arc barrels so you can find the best Pilates Arc barrel for home.

Balanced Body

The Pilates Arc by Balanced Body

Never have I seen anything like The Pilates Arc by Balanced Body. This innovative, foam barrel is unlike any of the others. Its design shows the forward-thinking craftsmanship that Balanced Body is known for.

Features

It’s a 3-in-1 piece of equipment.

This one piece of equipment is an Arc Barrel, Spine Corrector, and wedge for your Balanced Body reformer. It also looks like this Arc can also be used for some exercises that you might do on a Bosu. For example, practice Leg pull front with your hands on the flat part of your Arc to create instability and further challenge your core.

It’s 100% recyclable.

Because this Arc is made of foam, it is 100% recyclable. If you should ever see the day that your Arc becomes defective or dented, you can recycle it.

It comes with an instructional booklet and DVD.

Particularly if you haven’t already been trained to use this piece of equipment, this booklet and DVD will come in handy. Learn how to use this as:

  1. a Pilates Arc barrel,
  2. a Spine corrector, and as
  3. an additional piece of equipment for your Balanced Body Reformer.

It’s a good price.

Of all the Arc Barrels listed, this one is the least expensive.

Dimensions

  • both pieces joined:  38″ long, 10″ high, and 14.5″ wide
  • larger piece:  27″ long, 10″ high, and 14.5″ wide
  • smaller piece:  14.5 ” long, 6 ” high, and 14.5″ wide

Possible Issues

Although I think The Pilates Arc by Balanced Body is a quality piece of equipment, I do see some possible issues.

  • Foam does not last longer than wood. The other Arc barrels are made of wood.
  • When you create a multi-tool, some functionality can get lost. I’m really not a big fan of 3-in-1 items because it seems like they don’t end up doing the job as well as having the single items. To me, they can feel like screwing in a Phillips screw with a flathead screwdriver. You can do it, but it’s not easy.
  • If this is such a great plan, why isn’t anyone else creating a similar version? They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I believe that to be true in my Pilates equipment. That no one else has a version of this makes me wonder if it’s really that good.
  • Always choose a vendor from your country. No matter where you live, selecting a vendor from your country is a great idea. If your item is scratched or ripped when it shows up, getting a replacement will be fast, easy, and less expensive.

Elina Sports

The Pilates Arc by Elina Sports

To me, The Pilates Arc by Elina Sports looks very similar to the STOTT PILATES MERRITHEW Arc Barrel. This is a standard, open-sided version of the Arc barrel.

Features

Plywood construction with aluminum lugs.

Basically, these barrels are made of wood, secured with lugs, covered with a foam padding (in this case, high density EVA), and upholstered with leather-like material.

Synthetic leather cover designed for Pilates.

This synthetic leather cover was specifically designed for Pilates usage. Particularly, this material was chosen because it was skid-resistant.

Dimensions

  • length:  21.25″, 54 cm
  • height:  7.08″, 18 cm
  • width:  22.44″, 57 cm

Possible Issues

  • Watch the shipping! At first, I thought that this Arc Barrel was less expensive than the STOTT version. Then, I checked the shipping. Holy cow!
  • Always choose a vendor from your country. I’m not sure if the reason the shipping is so high is because the Arc is shipping from another country, but it reminds me that it’s important to make equipment purchases from your own country. This way, if your item is scratched or ripped when it shows up, getting a replacement will be fast, easy, and less expensive.

Pilates Edge by Elina Sports

Again, the Pilates Edge by Elina Sports looks very similar to the MERRITHEW Arc Barrel Deluxe by STOTT PILATES. In this version, the sides are enclosed with wooden cutouts for handles.

Features

Wooden structure.

Most of these barrels are made of wood, secured with lugs, covered with a foam padding (in this case, high density EVA), and upholstered with leather-like material.

Synthetic leather cover designed for Pilates.

This synthetic leather cover was specifically designed for Pilates usage. Particularly, this material was chosen because it was skid-resistant.

Dimensions

  • length:  18.9″, 48 cm
  • height:  6.3″, 16 cm
  • width:  17″, 43 cm

Possible Issues

  • Watch the shipping! At first, I thought that this Arc Barrel was less expensive than the STOTT version. Then, I checked the shipping. Holy cow!
  • Always choose a vendor from your country. I’m not sure if the reason the shipping is so high is because the Arc is shipping from another country, but it reminds me that it’s important to make equipment purchases from your own country. This way, if your item is scratched or ripped when it shows up, getting a replacement will be fast, easy, and less expensive.
  • For an additional amount of money, your barrel can have wooden handles. Really, that’s the only difference between the Pilates Edge by Elina Sports and the The Pilates Arc by Elina Sports. So, how important are wooden handles to you? Personally, I don’t prefer spending the extra money on cosmetics.

STOTT PILATES

STOTT PILATES MERRITHEW Arc Barrel

As I already mentioned, the STOTT PILATES MERRITHEW Arc Barrel is the barrel that I selected for my studio and for my home. I love its simple design and smooth look.

Features

Wooden construction.

This Pilates Arc barrel is made of wood, covered with EVA foam, and upholstered with durable black vinyl.

Black vinyl covering.

Part of what I like about black vinyl is that it’s so easy to clean. As you would with your mat, spray your barrel with cleaner and wipe it dry. Then, it’s ready for the next person to use.

Arc curve is 117 degrees.

The other manufacturers didn’t list the degree of their Arc curve. Since I have this barrel, I can attest that this curvature is appropriate for all people. Whether your upper back is tight or flexible, this Arc Barrel will suit you well.

Dimensions

  • length:  23.5″
  • height:  6″
  • width:  22.5″

Possible Issues

  • It seems pricey. Considering the basic construction of this item, it seems quite pricey. However, the only other option (for US residents) that ends up being less expensive than the STOTT PILATES MERRITHEW Arc Barrel is the The Pilates Arc by Balanced Body.
  • Always choose a vendor from your country. No matter where you live, selecting a vendor from your country is a great idea. If your item is scratched or ripped when it shows up, getting a replacement will be fast, easy, and less expensive.

MERRITHEW Arc Barrel Deluxe by STOTT PILATES

If you’re looking for a little classier version of an Arc Barrel, the MERRITHEW Arc Barrel Deluxe by STOTT PILATES might be just what you’re looking for.

Features

Wooden construction.

This Arc barrel is made of wood, covered with EVA foam, and upholstered with durable black vinyl.

Black vinyl covering.

Part of what I like about black vinyl is that it’s so easy to clean. As you would with your mat, spray your barrel with cleaner and wipe it dry. Then, it’s ready for the next person to use.

Baltic birch panels.

These wooden panels with rounded handles make the Arc barrel look more aesthetically appealing and less utilitarian.

Dimensions

  • length:  23.5″
  • height:  6.5″
  • width:  22.5″

Possible Issues

  • They don’t mention it, but there is a more dramatic curve to this barrel. It’s a half an inch higher than the other STOTT Arc barrel. Because of this, I prefer the STOTT PILATES MERRITHEW Arc Barrel to this barrel.
  • More money for wooden handles? If you really love the closed wooden sides and handles, then it’s worth it to you. However, this choice may not be for everybody.
  • Always choose a vendor from your country. No matter where you live, selecting a vendor from your country is a great idea. If your item is scratched or ripped when it shows up, getting a replacement will be fast, easy, and less expensive.

My Recommendation

Although the choices may have changed through the years, I would still buy the STOTT PILATES MERRITHEW Arc Barrel. In my opinion, it’s the best Pilates Arc barrel and the best value for the money. It’s soundly made; and it’s covered in a durable, cleanable material. This Arc would be the perfect addition for anyone shopping for home Pilates equipment.

What Arc Barrel did you choose? Let us know in the comments below.

Also, if you’re looking for Arc Barrel workouts, check out my post on How to Use the Arc Barrel, free Arc Barrel Workout Video, and look for my step-by-step instructions on Arc Barrel exercises that will start September 2018.

If you want to learn the basics of Pilates and yoga, sign up for my FREE 30-day challenge. Click here to sign up today!

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. When I'm not working with clients, I'm researching the best ways to get rid of pain. Do you want to learn how to practice yoga and Pilates safely in your own home? Or, do you want to know all my tips and tricks for pain relief? Join my mailing list and receive free goodies to help you.

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