The best Pilates reformer machine

Chicago Tribune 3 weeks ago

Pilates isn't just a class -- it's a lifestyle. For those who believe that practice never truly ends, it's worth investing in a Pilates reformer machine for your home.

Unlike mat Pilates, where the practice is fairly stationary, a reformer adds new challenges with resistance, motion, and new positions on a moving platform. These low-impact exercises are excellent for strength and resistance training as well as rehabilitation. As a result, you grow stronger, more flexible, and, above all, more confident in your body.

Wondering which Pilates reformer machine is best for your home practice? Our top pick is the AeroPilates Premier Reformer by Stamina. Its rebounder and neck support pillow are favorite features among practitioners.

Considerations when choosing Pilates reformer machines

Benefits of a home Pilates practice

Peaceful environment: As relaxing as a Pilates class can be, nothing beats using a reformer in the comfort of your own home. Fully customize your experience by dimming the lights, choosing a relaxing soundtrack, and using aromatherapy.

Practice at your own pace: Some exercises and techniques are easier to master than others. Others require more practice and fine-tuning. When you practice at home on your reformer, there is no pressure or time constraint to interrupt your concentration. If you use a reformer at home and still attend traditional classes, you're able to train at home while you focus on learning new techniques from your Pilates instructor.

Cost-effective: Pilates reformer classes are expensive, whether you buy them individually or sign up for monthly or annual packages through a studio. It can cost between a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars per year, which is why a one-time investment in a Pilates reformer machine is a smart idea. If you forego traditional classes to foot the bill for a home machine, you actually end up saving money after the first 12 to 18 months.



The frame of the reformer resembles a narrow, long bed frame. Tracks are located at the lateral sides to accommodate the sliding bed or platform. When comparing machines, it's important to take the total frame measurement into consideration -- since they take up quite a bit of space, you want to be sure one will fit in your home.


Straps attached to the top of the reformer frame can be pulled by arms or legs for exercises. They're by no means "one size fits all," as they're fully adjustable to accommodate your height, resistance level, and technique.


Pilates reformer machines have spring mechanisms. They're adjustable to add difficulty as you become stronger to pull or press through exercises. Inexpensive machines have bungee cords for springs, though they're not as durable as actual metal springs, which are found in premium-priced studio-quality machines.

Support accessories

Depending on how advanced your reformer is, it may come with support accessories such as head or neck rests, shoulder braces, or padded ankle bracing. These features tend to drive up the price of a reformer, so expect to see them in mid-range machines and up.

Educational materials

Reformer manufacturers appreciate that home practice means the absence of a Pilates instructor. They often include educational materials with reformers in the form of DVDs, online platforms, and exercise charts. These materials give an overview of basic techniques and guide you through more advanced exercises.


Simple Pilates former machines cost around $300, though their functionality is somewhat limited. Mid-range machines cost closer to $1,000 and deliver a solid experience with many bells and whistles of studio reformers. For an actual studio-quality machine, you need to invest between $5,000 and $8,000.


Q. Will my Pilates reformer machine come with a warranty?

A. Generally speaking, machines come with limited warranties, though the time frame varies from 90 days to three years. Be sure to save your proof of purchase and register your machine in the event you need to utilize your warranty.

Q. How advanced should I be in my Pilates practice before purchasing my own reformer machine?

A. There's no hard rule, however it's strongly recommended to master the basics before transitioning to independent practice at home. More than anything, you should know the proper form and technique, so your reformer practice is safe and non-injurious.

Pilates reformer machines we recommend

Our take: Top-quality model that brings key design elements from the studio into your home.

What we like: Wider stationary bar earns big points. Comes with DVD exercises and wall chart.

What we dislike: Large footprint, so you won't necessarily be able to store it easily when it's not in use.

Our take: Budget-friendly option that covers basic needs for reformer exercises.

What we like: Adjustability features accommodate shorter and taller practitioners alike.

What we dislike: Affordable price means limited options, such as no compatibility for a jumper or rebounder.

Our take: Get the full studio experience in the comfort of your own home. Best for serious practitioners and trainers.

What we like: Features full tower system to accommodate full series of reformer exercises. Durable construction.

What we dislike: Assembly is best handled by pros with experience building gym equipment.

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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