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4 best Pilates reformers to start using at home today

Best of all? They’re budget-friendly and get the job done.
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/ Source: TODAY

I’m someone who, despite my best efforts to be a tidy minimalist, has accumulated more fitness equipment than any one person truly needs. When Covid first hit and my neighborhood Pilates gym was forced to close, I did the first thing I could think of: rent one of their enormous Balanced Body reformers and cram it into my too-small bedroom. (Who needs access to their hallway, anyway?)

The rental fee for the reformer was high, though. While having one of the best professional Pilates reformers at my disposal enabled me to practice challenging moves that I might have otherwise been embarrassed to attempt in class, I canceled the rental after a few months.

Luckily, there are a handful of affordable reformers with my name on them. So, whether you’re new to reformer Pilates or take the prime seat at your weekly class, you might’ve become curious about getting an affordable Pilates reformer for your very own. Do it; they’re worth every inch of space.

“The Pilates reformer is one of the most versatile and effective pieces of workout equipment out there,” says Elaine Hayes, owner and founder of MNT Studios, a Pilates and barre studio in California that also offers digital programming. “There are virtually endless moves that can be performed on it for full-body sculpting, strengthening, toning and lengthening.”

What are the benefits of doing Pilates?

Robyn Williams, Barry’s instructor based in New York City, sees endless reasons to add Pilates into any fitness routine. “Since the principles of Pilates complement our HIIT element of Barry’s, I often incorporate Pilates movements into the floor portion of my classes, especially when focusing on core strengthening sections of my programming,” Williams says. “Low-impact and stabilizing workouts are super beneficial for the maintenance of our muscles; a great way to train on your off days.”

While the machine and movements might look intimidating, it’s truly for everyone. “Reformer Pilates lengthens, tones and strengthens the body in a low-impact way, which means anyone at any age, fitness and experience level can do it,” Hayes says.

Why should you start doing Pilates on a reformer?

If you've only ever done mat Pilates and feel like your workouts are stalling, “investing in a reformer will open up a whole new world of possibilities for you with endless moves and variations to have fun with and keep things interesting,” Hayes says.

The spring tension makes it a seriously challenging workout, too. “It's not only great for building strength, but also for cardio and stretching every part of your body,” she adds. If you're looking to strengthen your body, get more flexible and feel amazing in your body, having a reformer at your fingertips is a great idea.

What to look for when buying a Pilates reformer

Once you’ve found a piece of equipment that will fit in your space (most reformers are around 7 to 8 feet long and roughly 2 to 2 ½ feet wide, though plenty are geared toward small spaces and can be rolled away), make sure it’s sturdy enough to keep you safe, and built well. “Look for ropes with loops on the end (preferably two lengths of loops), at least five springs with varying tensions, an adjustable foot bar and a carriage that is comfortable to lie and kneel on,” Hayes recommends.

Best Pilates reformers, according to experts and shoppers

Best Pilates reformer for at-home use: Nexace Pilates Reformer

This sturdy reformer will get the job done and should last you a good long while — after all, it comes with five resistance cords (each offers around 11 pounds of weight) and a three-year warranty. Plus, the machine weighs 72 pounds, so it feels sturdy while you’re lying on the board.

Hayes is also a fan of this model. “I like that this isn’t flat on the ground so you can do moves like lunges and flying planks,” she explains. “It has lots of options for spring tension, ropes, an adjustable foot bar and folds away nicely.”

Best reformer for beginners: Stamina AeroPilates Reformer 287 Trainer

The first thing you’ll notice about this reformer is that it sits on the ground, which should eliminate any worries about losing balance and potentially falling. The platform and foot bar are both padded for extra comfort, and the shoulder pads are made with a dense foam.

“I love the simplicity of the design. Beginners will have a breeze of a time familiarizing with this reformer without feeling overwhelmed by its structure,“ Williams mentions.

Best Pilates reformer for small spaces: AeroPilates Foldable Reformer 4420

There’s no need to give up prime real estate in your home for a reformer — this one from AeroPilates folds right up for easy storage. There are built-in wheels attached to the base, so you can slide it underneath a bed or couch when you’re not using it. It comes with four tension springs and four workout DVDs.

“The size of this reformer lends itself to working [on Pilates] in the safe space of their own home,” according to Williams. “The DVD exercises are a great catalyst for any first-timer who needs to acclimate to the equipment.”

Best Pilates reformer with rebounder: AeroPilates 5-Cord Pro Reformer

This machine has it all. Five cords create 17 levels of resistance, and accompanying rebounder enables you to get a full low-impact cardio workout by jumping while on your back. The system also comes with six DVDs to help guide you through all sorts of moves.