Perhaps the most renowned of all Pilates equipment is the Reformer. With its sophisticated system of springs, straps and pulleys, more than 100 exercises can be performed on this surprisingly versatile apparatus. The crux is in the gliding platform on which one can sit, kneel, stand or lie on their front, back or side. The user pushes and pulls off the foot bar using the arms, legs, wrists and ankles to slide back and forth along the rails in a controlled manner while the tension in the springs gently works the muscles. The Pilates Reformer helps one establish torso stability and postural alignment while working peripheral limbs in a range of motion. The adjustable springs allow for progressive resistance, which helps to lengthen and strengthen the muscles rather than building bulk. It makes for an effective, no-impact stretching and toning workout that is friendly to the joints.
This piece of Pilates equipment is often referred to as "The Rack" as it resembles something you might find in a medieval torture chamber. But fear not. The Cadillac (also known as the Trapeze Table) is one of the most effective and versatile pieces of exercise equipment ever to be engineered. The Cadillac is essentially a raised horizontal table-top surrounded by a four-poster frame on which various bars, straps, springs and levers are fixed. Standard models include a push-through bar (which can be sprung from above or below), a roll-down bar, a trapeze or cross bar, arm springs, leg springs, thigh and ankle cuffs and even fuzzy hanging loops. As with most Pilates equipment pieces, the Cadillac contains various adjustable parts and you really need a trained instructor to guide you through safe, proper usage and effective technique. Over 80 different exercises can be performed on this piece of Pilates equipment, ranging from gentle spring-assisted sit ups to advanced acrobatics that have one hanging from the upper bars - there's something for all ages and abilities. The Cadillac repertoire of exercises truly challenges the core abdominal muscles, develops spinal flexibility, works the shoulder girdle, strengthens the back and stretches the total body.
Like the name says, this piece of Pilates equipment consists of ladder-like rungs and a rounded barrel-like surface on which a multitude of stretching, strengthening and flexibility exercises can be performed. The barrel is separated from the ladder by a sliding base that can adjust to accommodate different torso sizes and leg lengths in a range of Pilates exercises. The ladder rungs - four to six in total - are also adjustable to facilitate varying levels of fitness.
The Pilates Ladder Barrel helps isolate deep postural muscles and challenges the body on all planes of movement. For example, one exercise has you sitting on the barrel facing the ladder with your feet secured in the rungs, then you arch back over the barrel with your vertebrae following its contour and activate the core abdominals to return to the starting position in a controlled manner. Mental focus is key to executing this safely and effectively. Other exercises have you facing the other way, with your belly on the barrel, giving you a supported spinal stretch that helps to release tension.
Deceptively resembling a stylish little stool, the Pilates Chair (most commonly known as the Wunda Chair or Stability Chair) is one versatile exercise machine. Don't let the word "chair" fool you - it's not necessarily a sit-down workout. While many of these Pilates exercises are performed seated on top and pressing down on the step/pedal with your feet, others entail lying on the floor, standing straight up, lunging forward or doing push-up like moves with the arms. More than 75 exercises can be performed on the Chair - it makes it a great addition to your physical fitness routine.