by VP_G7P8dgOfz

January 3, 2022

Mat Pilates vs. Reformer Pilates: What's the Difference?

Whether you’re an expert at Pilates or a brand-new student just looking to get started, it’s important that you understand the difference between mat Pilates and Reformer Pilates. The main difference is the equipment on which you’re working: with the mat, you’re simply using your body as resistance; with the reformer, you’re using a machine with springs for further resistance and assistance. But let’s take a closer look at how this difference manifests in your workout.

A Brief Definition of Pilates

In the early 20th Century, Joseph Pilates created Pilates as a way to enhance core strength and improve overall muscle fitness. The 600+ Pilates exercises focus on helping people build long, lean, and powerful muscles with a special emphasis on using your breath and core to create a more stable exercise experience.

Pilates has been shown to have many health benefits, including:

  • Increasing core strength

  • Decreasing back pain

  • Improving posture

  • Increasing energy

  • Decreasing stress

  • Improving flexibility

  • Improving motivation

  • Improving sleep

There are many other benefits to Pilates, but all stem from the same principle that guides the exercises: being mindful in connecting your breath to the control of your body and using your muscles to do what they were designed to do. 

Mat Pilates

The most common form of Pilates is Mat Pilates. Mat Pilates exercises are performed on a simple mat, much like a yoga mat, and are designed for a person to perform using only their own body weight. Each exercise is designed to help you move from your centre (or Powerhouse) by using core muscles and deep breathing to control your body’s movements.

Mat Pilates may look easy, but you’ll find that it’s actually quite challenging once you get started. You’ll need to control your body and provide all resistance from your own strength. However, Mat Pilates is incredibly accessible, since all you’ll need to get started is a soft surface to work on. Once you have that, you simply have to start practising the moves to see your body change and strengthen.

Reformer Pilates

Reformer Pilates is performed using a  versatile machine that Joseph Pilates invented. The machine is a simple flatbed (carriage) supported in a wooden or metal frame. This machine includes springs, bars, and straps that can be used to add resistance to your workouts. You can add more springs for greater resistance or remove springs for somewhat less resistance.

The Reformer machine provides a greater variety of options for Pilates students. Because the springs can be changed to add more or less resistance, people can advance up to different “levels” more easily than they would be able to on a mat. Reformer Pilates may also increase the speed at which you see results, making it more useful if you want to see quick changes in your body. 

Reformers offer more feedback than Mat Pilates because you can feel the straps or springs pulling against you and can more fully understand if you’re doing your exercises correctly. This machine can increase your ability to do exercises that may not have been possible if you were using only your own body weight. 

Reformer Pilates is also useful for people with knee injuries, scoliosis, or other injuries to their joints. Because some resistance is taken off the body and placed on the machine, the Reformer can provide a gentler and more efficient method of strength recovery for injured people.

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Mat vs. Reformer Pilates: Which is Better?

In the end, both Mat and Reformer Pilates will provide huge benefits to you if you’re looking to strengthen your body and regain control over your muscles. Regardless of which you use, you will be engaging all of your muscles in a balanced, controlled method of exercise that will help you breathe deeper and grow stronger as a person.

If you’re interested in getting more involved in Mat Pilates or Reformer Pilates, we offer both methods and can provide you with a schedule that will fit your needs and your unique body! Get in touch with us for a free consult today

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