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What is Pilates studio equipment?

At first glance these bits of equipment look very intimidating however, the history behind them and their benefits (in the hands of a classical/fully qualified instructor) are amazing.


A bit of history

Joseph Pilates first came up with the idea of equipment in 1912 while stationed at an internment camp in WWI. He started ‘testing’ his exercise method (then named Contrology), on fellow internees. Working alongside the nurses to help rehabilitate injured soldiers he started to attach springs to the bed frames to help them do exercises. This was the very early form of the Cadillac and Reformer.


In 1926 he set up a studio in NYC and developed, what he called, The Universal Reformer. It wasn’t long until the Ballet industry heard of the benefits of ‘Contrology’ and they soon flocked to his studio to help improve their art and also rehabilitate injuries.


Interesting fact: The dancers used to call the Reformer the ‘Plié machine’ as the footwork on this piece of equipment imitates the Plié done in dance.


Soon Joseph made a variety of equipment to use at his studio:


The Reformer

Looks like a bed with a moving carriage with springs attached to it and also has a pulley system for use with the hands and feet.

- Low impact

- Helps strengthen and tone muscles

- Perfect for all levels of fitness

- Used to help rehabilitate injuries (with a qualified orthopaedic instructor)

- Greater range of dynamic exercises

- Exercises performed lying down, sitting, kneeling, standing





The Wunda Chair

Looks like a chair with springs attached and was originally made for a friend of Joseph’s who wanted a Reformer but couldn’t fit one in his NYC apartment so Joseph designed this.


- Low impact

- Helps strengthen and tone muscles

- Perfect for all fitness levels

- Exercises performed standing, sitting

- Great to improve balance




Ladder Barrel and Spine Corrector

Originally made from a beer keg, this great bit of kit can be found in most clinical/classical studios. As the name suggests it comprises a barrel and a ladder and is used to help support the spine in certain areas of flexion and extension.

- Low impact

- Helps support the body in extension and flexion

- Exercises mainly performed standing or on/against the Ladder Barrel or seated, lying on the Spine Corrector

- Strengthens and tones muscles

- Supports body – perfect for all levels of fitness and great in rehabilitation







Ladder Barrel










Spine Corrector








The Cadillac

Looks like a hospital bed with a frame over the top. Has many attachments to work the whole body. Only found in classical studios.


- Low impact

- Exercises performed lying, kneeling, standing

- Supports body (with attachments)

- Has a wide range of exercises including mat work repertoire



There are more amazing bits of equipment that have been made over the years but these are the main (original) pieces and I personally love all of them.


You can now find the Reformer, Spine Corrector and Wunda Chair at my home studio. When booking studio sessions with me we will have a go on all of them depending on our goals for that session.


I look forward to seeing you in the studio soon!

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