Types of Pilates Equipment

Posted June 12, 2021

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When you come into a Club Pilates Studio, you are introduced to a host of Pilates equipment, or what we like to call the apparatus. Some of the apparatus may look daunting but rest assured there is nothing to be concerned about. Read on and you can find out how the Pilates apparatus is included in your class workouts.

Pilates Apparatus History

Joseph Pilates first thought of the idea for his apparatus in 1912 when he was stationed in an internment camp during WW1.  It was during this time that Joe began to “test” his Pilates method on some of his fellow internees. In an effort to help rehabilitate bedridden German soldiers at the camp, he rigged springs to their metal hospital beds so they could, too, do his exercises and “return to health.”

When Joe moved to the U.S in 1926 he filed the first patient for what he dubbed The Universal Reformer, inspired by the bed contraptions he had created more than a decade earlier. Being the innovator that he was, it wasn’t long before Joe invented more equipment, such as the Cadillac, Wunda Chair and barrels at his studio in New York City. With the exception of the Barrels, Joe designed the apparatus to operate with spring-based resistance, to simultaneously deliver support and challenge to the body as it moves through the exercises.

Today’s Pilates Equipment

 Fast forward to 2021, and we are lucky to have access to many reputable manufacturers of Pilates equipment.  Although some of the apparatus have evolved to offer adjustability and versatility the principles remain the same.

Pilates Equipment

The Reformer

The reformer was the first piece of equipment Joe invented. It features an elevated bed-like frame, either made from metal or wood (or a mix), that houses a gliding, cushioned platform called a carriage; the carriage moves along rails by way of a pulley system. On one end, the carriage is attached to a set of springs that deliver resistance and can be customized to accommodate any fitness level.

The reformer also features a footbar at one end, shoulder blocks, and a movable headrest at the other. The reformer is renowned for its incredible versatility, allowing for a variety of exercises to be performed in all body positions (i.e., lying down, sitting, kneeling, standing).

The EXO Chair

Also widely known as the Wunda Chair, this piece of apparatus looks deceivingly friendly, but don’t be fooled. It is considered to be one of the most challenging pieces of Pilates equipment.

In his 1931 Patent application, Joseph Pilates described his invention as “a chair that would better support the body and promote better posture…” Joe envisaged his chair gracing the lounge rooms of his New York Clients.

The modern day Wunda Chair, specifically the Balanced Body EXO Chair features a cushioned “seat” – a small base with little support – a split pedal and springs for resistance. The EXO Chair offers many benefits including: Seated, upright and functional weight bearing resistance work, increased quadriceps focus, and an increased challenge for stability due to the smaller base of support.

The Springboard

Fusing elements from the Reformer, Cadillac and mat to give a full body workout.  The springboard is bolted to the wall and consists of eyelets that run up and down the sides.  Springs attach to the eyelet to provide resistance for upper and lower body exercises.

Yellow springs are for arms and purple springs for legs.  There is also a pole that attaches to the springs for a variety of exercises. The fixed pole at the bottom of the springboard can be used for stability whilst lying supine.

The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle is one of the earliest pieces of Pilates apparatus. It is said that Joseph Pilates made the first magic circle from the ring of a keg.

Nowadays the  Magic Circle is made of either pliable metal or rubber and is designed to provide resistance to your Pilates exercises. It’s primary purpose is to be secondary to the exercises, meaning that is supposed to compliment whatever activity you are doing.

Ready to Try Pilates Equipment-based Workouts?

Club Pilates Australia is dedicated to creating a community of supportive, like minded people, committed to improving their overall health and well-being while through Pilates.  Sign up for a FREE first class to try Pilates today!

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