Does the Pilates equipment seem intimidating? It may look so at first, but it was designed by Joseph Pilates to assist the client in performing his exercises. Here’s what he had to say about his machines:
“I invented all the machines. Began back in Germany, was there until 1925, used to exercise rheumatic patients. I thought, why use my strength? So I made a machine to do it for me. Look you see it resists your movements in just the right way so those inner muscles really have to work against it. That way you can concentrate on movement.” – Joseph H. Pilates
Today we call the machines “equipment” or “apparatus”. The most common are the Reformer, Cadillac, and Chair. Each machine uses springs of different tensions. As an instructor, I will adjust the number of springs according to my client’s abilities and the particular exercise. In some cases, adding springs provides more support and at other times it makes the exercise more challenging.
Joe called the Reformer the “Universal Reformer” because it universally reformed the body. The Reformer has a moveable carriage with up to five springs of different tensions. The Reformer is a really useful piece of equipment for noticing imbalances in the body. Clients usually enjoy the Reformer for the added challenge of the moving carriage.
What we call the Cadillac today Joe called his Trapeze Table. Clients who are new to Pilates love the Cadillac because it’s so supportive of their movements. Attached to the four-poster frame are a roll-down bar, arm and leg springs, fuzzy straps, the trapeze, and a push-through bar.
Joe designed the Chair for his New York City clients who were living in small apartments. In his original design, the client could flip the Chair onto its back and add a cushion, thus turning it into a regular chair for lounging. The idea was that they could do their exercises in their small living spaces without taking up additional space. The Chair, due to its small size, can be a more challenging piece of equipment. At the same time, clients love it for challenging balance and it’s good for clients that are not comfortable lying on their backs for long periods of time.
I have this version of the Chair in my studio.
Total Workout System
The Total Workout System is a combination system. It is based on Joe’s Cadillac and Reformer. It functions exactly as the Reformer does and has almost all of the Cadillac’s capabilities. In the picture below it’s set up in Reformer mode. When we use it as a Cadillac (also called a Tower), the foot bar folds down and the mat lies flat. Then it has the same roll-down bar, arm and leg springs, and push-through bar of the Cadillac.
I have this version of the Total Workout System in my studio.