In my years as a Pilates instructor, I have met too many beginners with various questions before coming to love Pilates. They start initially by being just curious about the practice. They are more interested in asking questions in class than to perform the movements.
“Why do we need to use many machines for one move? How different or similar are classical and mat Pilates? Which should I do first? Which is easier?”
I try as much as I can to provide them with answers – patiently. And then I tell them to try it out and then perhaps they would begin to understand the purpose for each piece of equipment. But then, the questions keep coming back from almost every student that I welcome to my studio.
So I decided to write this article for the Pilates beginners and the curious minds as well. Here’s a list of the more common types of equipment that are utilized in the practice of Pilates around the world.
The Pilates Mat
If you want to increase the strength of every major muscle in your body, the mat sequences are great to do. You will be performing the movements mainly on the floor with the mat but will be using small workout gear such as a Pilates ring, theraband, or a foam roller to increase the intensity of your exercise. Obviously, doing the mat exercises is more accessible, as you can do them anywhere as long as you can focus and do the moves properly. Mat exercises can be done as a group, although those with injuries or lessened core strength are not encouraged to join.
The Trapeze Table
It might look complicated, as it is bordered by four poles, a trapeze on top, and various attachments, clients eventually continue to use the trapeze table because of their improved hip and spinal mobility. The push-through bar, roll-down bar, and arm and leg springs are attachments that provide challenging type exercises,especially for the advanced clients. This apparatus offers a full body workout, and Joseph often termed this “The Cadillac.” However, it is quite bulky and requires space to use, which is why it is indicated for one-on-one classes.
The Pilates Reformer
Often referred to as a universal equipment, the Pilates reformer is perfect for clients who are either novice or advanced since the tension can be adjusted according to one’s strength. It is operated through a push and pull movement and is done in different positions. Super advanced Pilates enthusiasts can also use the reformer as it can conveniently be modified to suit one’s needs and requirements.
Initially created by Joseph Pilates for home use, the Wunda Chair is the perfect companion for every New Yorker with the goal of achieving overall body strength. The apartments in New York are small and most people who utilize the chair add it as a kind of furniture that they can easily grab when they have a few hours to relax from work.
The Ladder Barrel
As the name implies, the ladder barrel is composed of several steps with a smooth-textured barrel surface where clients can perform a lot of strengthening, flexibility, and stretching exercises. The whole body cannot be accommodated inside the barrel, so exercises for the deeper postural musculature can be done independently. Extreme and challenging workouts can be performed on the ladder barrel.
When Joseph Pilates invented the practice in Germany, he was introducing exercises to rheumatic patients. He realized that these patients couldn’t use much of their strength, which was the essence of Pilates, using one’s core strength. This led him to think about creating machines to assist patients with conditions and injuries. His purpose was for the machine to resist the strength of an individual with the intensity that he could handle, resisting their movement in the appropriate way that even their inner muscles work as well.
Joseph said, “That way you can focus on the movement. You should always do it slowly and smoothly. Then your whole body is in it.”