The Ultimate Guide to the Pilates Reformer

The Ultimate Guide to the Pilates Reformer

When starting any type of exercise you have possibly never done Reformer before it can seem pretty scary. Especially when it involves using a big machine. 

With all of it’s different attachments it can seem quite off putting at first. 

So I wanted to put your mind at ease and give you a guide to using the Reformer. 

The Reformer is in some ways much like a rowing machine. 

The movement of the carriage creates an up and down motion that could make it seem like it is a rowing machine. 

But it is far from it. This simple guide will show what each part of the machine looks like, and how we use it within a class. Even a simple thing like lying down may seem harder than you realise.



The Springs all have a different colour attached to them and represent the strength of that spring. 

Yellow =  Very Light

Blue = Light

Red = Medium

Green = Heavy

Don’t be fooled by the lighter spring though. This can actually make exercises harder as we require more balance and stability depending on the movement. 

We can also have different combinations of springs depending on what we are doing. 

The Footbar

The name of the Footbar is a bit of a giveaway. This is where your feet go and where we tend to do a lot of our warm ups from. 

It can also be used for upper body movements among many other exercises. 

Top Tip: When lowering the footbar think of it a lot like your sun-bed on a nice warm beach. 


Platform Extender 

The Platform Extender adds some additional length to the end of the carriage so we are able to perform a greater variety of movements. Below you can see how it is used for some of our lower body exercises. 


Top Tip: Whenever you come to a standing position on the Reformer, always step on the platform first. Standing on the carriage is very unstable. 


The Carriage is basically where we create all of the movements. With well over 1000 exercises we can pretty much do anything with this amazing piece of equipment. 

On the carriage you will see your shoulder rests, headrest and straps. 

Everything is named in a way that makes it easy for you to remember. 

Top Tip: When putting your headrest up make sure to pop your hand underneath and slide the wooden block into place to make it higher. 



The straps on the reformer are the reason this machine is so versatile. We can create an endless flow of movements just by using the straps. 

They can seem quite daunting at first but you will feel amazing once you use them, Especially when you get those feet in. 


Box and Jumpboard

Each Reformer comes with it’s own set of these. They bring a different element to the class and allow us as instructors to challenge you even more. Or maybe even make things a little easier.