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What Is the Best Pilates Reformer? (My Top 5 Choices)

Inside: Deciding on the best Pilates reformer for you can be a difficult choice. Here’s a shopping guide with information about the top 5 reformers.what is the best pilates reformer

Buying a reformer for your home is a strong declaration that you love Pilates. Although this is a common piece of home equipment, it can be quite pricey. In my opinion, there are four main manufacturers of high-quality reformers. Three of the manufacturers are best known for their studio-grade reformers, and the fourth manufacturer is known for high-quality home reformers.

When I bought my first reformer, I bought a home model. It was fine for me personally to learn reformer exercises on. However, when I decided that I wanted to teach clients on the reformer, I sprung for a studio model.

At the time, the difference was unbelievable. It was clear that the studio reformer was far superior to my home model. The carriage movement was smoother, the footbar was sturdier, the springs added depth to the exercises, and it was more comfortable to work on.

Times have changed, and the home reformers that are sold today are not the dinky models of a decade ago. They offer substance and value. And they make your reformer shopping a lot more challenging.

Here’s more about what I think are the top five Pilates reformers, what they have to offer, and what I think the best Pilates reformer is.

what is the best pilates reformer

Balanced Body

Balanced Body Studio Reformer with Classic Footbar

In a word, the Balanced Body Studio Reformer is beautiful. Its maple frame and black upholstery look sleek and professional, but they’re sturdy enough for daily use.

Features

Strata Rock Maple Frame

A solid wood frame is not just sturdy. It’s also beautiful and warm compared to the metal frame that some other manufacturers produce.

Long Carriage

This is a particularly important item for tall individuals. As your legs press against the footbar, you’ll slide the carriage of your reformer. For tall people, sometimes the carriage will stop because your legs are so long and the length of the rails is inadequate for your height.

The length of these rails is 41 inches (104 cm).

Sturdy Yet Adjustable Footbar

The footbar is supported by two metal arms, and it adjusts to three positions including down. This is pretty standard for professional level reformers.

The Perks

  • Foam padded carriage
  • Adjustable ropes & risers
  • 5 Springs: 1 blue, 3 red, 1 green
  • Sitting box (16″ w x 29″ l x 11.5″ h) (41cm x 74cm x 29cm)
  • Loops/handles:
    -Single D-ring cotton loops (1 pair)
    -Neoprene handles (1 pair)
  • A streaming workout video

Handmade in the USA

For those who like to purchase products made in the USA, this is a big deal. However, even if you don’t really care where your item is made, you might care that it’s handmade. To me, handmade items tend to show a level of skill and care above what might be crafted and assembled by a machine.

Dimensions

  • Height: 14 inches (36 cm)
  • Length: 93 inches (236 cm)
  • Width: 27 inches (69 cm)
  • Reformer weight: 152 lbs (69 kg)

Possible Issues

  • It’s pricey. Of all of the reformers listed in this top five, this one is the most expensive.
  • You might not like the style. If this isn’t your style, don’t worry! Balanced Body makes several other styles of reformer. Here’s a link to their website to see the other styles. (This reformer is listed as their “Studio Reformer” on this page.)
  • 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.

Peak Pilates

Fit Reformer

Peak Pilates is also known for making professional Pilates equipment. Although their pieces aren’t quite as stylish as Balanced Body, they do have a good reputation. I’ve chosen their Fit Reformer because of its collapsibility.

For more information about Peak Pilates reformers, check out their website.

Features

Aluminum Frame

The powder coated aluminum frame ensures that your reformer will last for a very long time.

Four Position Footbar

The footbar lowers and lifts to four positions. Also, it’s wrapped in a deluxe wraparound cover.

Side Split Platform

This is a unique design of a relatively common feature. Many reformers have a side spilt platform that had some grip applied to help you stabilize your foot. Often, this is incorporated into the frame of the reformer right below the gear bar. In this model, though, they have a lifted oval-shaped piece.

Ability to Add a Jump Board

Although you may not use a jump board all that often, it is a great accessory to add to spice up your reformer workout. Once you decide that you love your reformer, I highly suggest that you invest in a jump board.

The Perks

  • Stack up to 4 high or stand on end
  • 5 spring system: 1 red (heavy), 2 yellow (medium), and 2 blue (light)
  • 3 position headrest
  • Adjustable ropes and double loops
  • Retractable risers
  • Non-slip pad
  • Standard long/short box: 9 ½” H x 16” W x 27 ½” L (24cm x 41cm x 70cm)

Stackable

This is a very interesting benefit. It tells me that this reformer is lightweight and relatively easy to collapse. Since Peak Pilates specifically mentions that this reformer can be stacked horizontally or stored on its end, you can bet that it would be easy to stow this reformer under your bed or in your closet when it’s not in use.

Four Position Gear Bar

Personally, I don’t really use the gear bar on my reformer. So, the fact that they have four positions doesn’t really do anything for me. However, if you like to play with your gears, this is great for you!

Dimensions

  • Height: 16 inches
  • Length: 97 inches
  • Width: 25 inches
  • Reformer weight: 162 lbs

Possible Issues

  • The footbar doesn’t lower completely. Although it gets quite low, the footbar doesn’t completely lower so that it’s flush.
  • No workout DVD.  Although you expect that someone buying a reformer will be familiar with many of the exercises, it’s still a good idea to include a nice workout DVD.
  • 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.

Stamina

AeroPilates Premier Reformer 700

Of all the reformer models listed, the AeroPilates Premier Reformer 700 is the least professional looking. On the other hand, because you don’t have all of the aluminum and wood that some of the other models have, you have a much less expensive piece of equipment.

Features

Trapezoidal Carriage

Most carriages are a rectangle. With the trapezoid shape, you get a little bit of extra room for your hips.

Cardio Rebounder

If you have never tried rebounding on the reformer, you’re missing out! As you jump, you really get your heart rate up. Plus, it’s a fun way to change up various reformer exercises. I love that this is included.

Head and Neck Pillow

The head rests on reformers are notoriously uncomfortable. It’s nice to see some thought given to redesigning this area that’s so important to anyone suffering from neck pain.

Perks

  • Curved, wider footbar (24 inches wide)
  • 4 heavy-duty, elastic cords
  • 3 position adjustable headrest along with oversized high density foam shoulder pads
  • Adjustable ropes, straps, and hand grips
  • 2 workout DVDs

Dimensions

  • Length: 85 inches
  • Width: 23 inches
  • Height:  27 inches
  • Maximum participant height: 6’4″

Possible Issues

  • Bungees. Do not be fooled–bungees do not provide the same challenge to your workout as springs. I am not a fan of reformers with cords.
  • Height issues. If you want to rebound, you can plan on needing several inches as you jump. Anyone 5’10” or above shouldn’t plan on doing any rebounding on this machine.
  • No box. Short and long box work is a component of all levels of reformer work. I find it a little surprising that they choose to include a rebounder instead of a box.
  • 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.

Stamina AeroPilates Pro Reformer with Free-Form Cardio Rebounder

Although the AeroPilates Pro Reformer is more expensive than the AeroPilates Premier Reformer 700, it offers some of the aesthetic design elements of the professional reformers. Plus, the AeroPilates Pro Reformer is still less expensive than the other professional reformers.

Features

Silver Steel Frame with Oak Trim

With the silver steel and oak wood, this reformer looks very sleek and professional. Its solid construction should last for many years.

Springs!

I am so happy that this reformer has springs instead of cords. However, it only offers four springs (instead of five like some of the other professional reformers). Whether this is a big deal to you or not will depend on how many springs you need to use when performing your Footwork.

Cardio Rebounder

Again, I love that they are including the rebounder. Adding rebounding to your reformer workout is a great way to add cardio and variety. As you keep challenging your body, it will respond by growing stronger.

Perks

  • 4 heavy-duty, variable springs
  • 3 position adjustable headrest along with oversized high density foam shoulder pads
  • Adjustable ropes
  • Taller, padded, wider, removable and adjustable foot bar with 3 positions
  • Padded, flared, black platform (23.25” wide)
  • Longer (9”) aluminum rails with ball bearing wheels
  • Larger, black Cardio Rebounder (14”x 19”)
  • Furry hand and foot straps
  • 2 workout DVDs

Dimensions

  • Length: 100.5 inches
  • Height: 23.5 inches
  • Width: 36 inches
  • Reformer weight: 165 lbs

Possible Issues

  • The footbar doesn’t lower completely. While the footbar offers 3 positions, none of them go completely level with the platform.
  • No box. Short and long box work is a component of all levels of reformer work. I find it a little surprising that they choose to include a rebounder instead of a box.
  • It doesn’t feel like a studio reformer. I haven’t actually tried this reformer, but reviewers say that it doesn’t ride as smoothly as a studio reformer.
  • 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.

STOTT PILATES

MERRITHEW At Home SPX Reformer Bundle

With the MERRITHEW At Home SPX Reformer Bundle, you’ll have everything you’ll need for a complete reformer workout. Of all of the reformers, this one comes with the most goodies. In fact, the only thing that you might want to buy later is a jump board.

Features

Four Position Footbar

Although you may not use the middle two positions as often as you use the #1 and #4 positions, you will still need them.

6 Carriage Stops

This is a big deal for me. When a person gets onto the reformer with the carriage at the first stopper position, it can be a little uncomfortable (especially if the person is tall or has tight hips). Carriage stops adjust the carriage of the reformer and help move it further away from the footbar. This makes working on the reformer much more comfortable.

The Perks

Of all the reformers, this one comes with the most additional equipment. With all of this gear, the only thing that you might want to buy in the future is a jump board or cardio rebounder (a Pilates trampoline). Here’s a list of what’s included:

  • Foam padded carriage
  • Adjustable ropes & risers
  • 5 springs: 3 full-tension, 1 half-tension, and 1 quarter-tension
  • 3 position headrest
  • Double loops
  • Padded platform extender
  • Reformer box and foot strap
  • Metal roll-up pole
  • 2 workout DVDs

Dimensions

  • Reformer dimensions: width: 26 inches (66 cm), length: 96.5 inches (2.5 m), height: 10 inches (25.4 cm)
  • Carriage dimensions: 22 x 38.5 inches (W x L) 
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs
  • Reformer weight: 115 lbs (52 kg)

Possible Issues

  • Parts might be missing or bent. Any time you order an item that requires some amount of assembly, you run the risk of having some of the pieces missing or broken. Always check your pieces before you start assembling your reformer (just in case).
  • Delivery. This reformer arrives in a 14 foot box, so delivery can be awkward.
  • 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 for Best Pilates Reformer

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m biased toward STOTT products. I’m STOTT PILATES certified, so I learned on all of their products. Plus, they give certified instructors a discount, so I purchased all of their equipment for my own studio.

Still, I feel like even if I didn’t have that personal bias, I would still choose the MERRITHEW At Home SPX Reformer Bundle as my top choice. I love being able to buy everything that I need all at once.

However, that’s just my opinion. What’s most important is your opinion. If you’re thinking of purchasing a reformer for your home, carefully examine what each one has to offer, cost, and possible shipping charges to help you decide what’s best for you.

What do you think the best Pilates reformer is? Let us know in the comments below. 

Also, I just want to let you know that if you’re interested in learning the basics of Pilates and yoga, I offer a 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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