Get To Know Your Pilates Reformer

Maybe you are new to reformer Pilates, or maybe you have been doing comprehensive Pilates training for years. No matter where you are in your Pilates journey, the Pilates reformer is a unique piece of equipment that can be a little intimidating or overwhelming at times. This post is to help you become more comfortable and familiar with using this versatile machine during classes and privates.

What is the Reformer?

The reformer is a fitness apparatus with adjustable components that help you target small and large muscles of the body – especially underutilized or often neglected muscles that provide greater mobility and stability for the body. Joseph Pilates invented it to allow for exercises that could target and “reform” every part of the body. It has either a wooden or a metal frame that looks like a bedframe and can be used for all levels and abilities. At Wild Hare Pilates, we use Peak Pilates reformers. 

The Carriage

Within the frame of the reformer, there is a moving platform that you can lie, sit, or even stand on. We adjust the spring tension to make it heavier or lighter, thus increasing and decreasing the resistance depending on the exercise and the focus of that exercise. Your instructor will always tell you the spring tension you should have or adjust it for you.



On Peak Pilates reformers, the red spring provides the heaviest resistance, yellow is medium, and blue is the lightest. It is important to remember that heavier does not always mean harder or better. It simply changes the focus of the exercise. Sometimes lighter spring tension is more challenging depending on the exercise and which part of the body you are focusing on and sometimes heavier is more challenging. You never want to overload your springs. Remember, Pilates targets both larger and smaller muscles and muscle groups, and it is important that you train your body correctly to avoid injury. At Wild Hare Pilates, we challenge your bodies during your sessions, but we also always honor your bodies. Your certified and experienced Pilates instructor will always provide the safest options for the most optimal challenge during your session.

The Footbar

Just above the springs is a footbar. When you first lie down on the reformer you can place your feet on the footbar. You will push the carriage in and out using your legs. We often start our classes with Footwork, which is an important element to the warm-up of Pilates and includes a variety of foot positions on the footbar while extending and retracting the carriage with your legs.

The Headrest

You have an adjustable headrest on the reformer with 3 settings – all the way up, half up, and all the way down. You can adjust the headrest to what feels best for you and your posture. However, there are certain exercises where your Pilates instructor will instruct to move the headrest all the way up or down.

Shoulder Blocks

Next to the headrest are padded shoulder blocks that will provide cushioning for your shoulders as you move your carriage when lying on your back. You can also use these shoulder blocks as a point of reference when looking for your straps or where to place pieces of equipment when needed.

Staps or Loops

Above your shoulder blocks are two sets of straps or loops resting on metal pegs. You will either put your hands or feet into those straps. Again, your instructor will tell you which straps to use depending on the exercise, as well as the spring tension. The straps/loops will be used throughout the class in various exercises. You may use them lying down, sitting, or kneeling on the reformer.

Jump Board

The jump board isn’t used in every class; it’s mostly used in our Jump Board classes. It attaches to the end of the reformer and allows you to jump while lying down on the reformer. We adjust the springs to increase or decrease the tension. It is a great way to get in high-intensity cardio using low-impact jumping so that it is easy on your joints.

Now that you have a better understanding of the reformer, come in and try a FREE Reformer Pilates workout with us!

Or Call us at (818)350-3210