Pilates reformer

The Best Pilates Reformers for At-Home Workouts

Before you buy a Pilates reformer to use outside of class, here's what you should know.
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When it comes to Pilates reformer classes, you stand to gain a lot from hitting a studio rather than practicing at home. For starters, many instructors make a point to explain how to set up your machine, as well as how to perform each move with the correct form (which usually isn't simple). Plus, Pilates reformer machines can cost upward of several thousand dollars, so unless you're deeply committed to Pilates, they might not be something you're inclined to spring for in the first place.

That being said, if you are in the platinum-level fan club (I mean, the benefits of Pilates speak for themselves) and would love to be able practice at home between classes or are thinking of getting into virtual classes, there are some investment-worthy options to equip your home gym with a Pilates reformer. Purchase your own machine, and you can do all the leg circles and jackknives your heart desires without setting foot outside your home. If you're prepared to part with the money and space, you can buy the same reformers used in your favorite studios for your own personal use. (Related: How to Use a Pilates Reformer for Beginners)

About that hefty price tag — some companies offer options that come in at less than $1,000 and, depending on your intentions, this might suffice. However, reformers tend to be a you-get-what-you-pay-for situation, with higher-priced models providing a few key advantages. For one, higher-quality reformers incorporate springs rather than bungee cords (essentially resistance tubes), which makes them more expensive to produce, says Ken Endelman, CEO of Balanced Body, which designs and produces Pilates equipment. "When you pull on a spring it's a very smooth motion, whereas the bungee cord gets really hard really fast," says Endelman. "All the Pilates exercises that people are doing on Pilates equipment are designed to be used on machines that have springs." Springs are also the more durable option, he adds.

Another important distinction: A quality Pilates reformer will be designed with attention to detail, says Endelman. "The geometry of the reformer is important," he says. "A lot of reformers on the market are really short; the foot bars are either too short or too low, or their hooks are too close behind you, too low, or too high." It's not just about having enough length to accommodate all bodies and heights, but the right proportions between the reformer's various elements are key for performing Pilates exercises as intended and with proper form, he says.

Now that you know a bit about how what's at stake when choosing your apparatus, here are some of the best at-home Pilates reformer options.

STOTT Merrithew At-Home SPX Reformer Bundle

Stott Merrithew Pilates Reformer
Credit: Amazon

You can choose a just-the-basics option and buy the accessories (such as a jump board or additional springs) to customize your resistance à la carte. Or, you can go with a bundle such as this Pilates reformer with springs, which comes with a box, pole, and two workout DVDs. With a 96.5-inch length, it's longer than many available options, which you might appreciate if you're tall.

Balanced Body Allegro Tower of Power

Balanced Body Allegro Tower of Power
Credit: Amazon

A Pilates tower is a frame that allows for additional configurations, which you can use to do almost all of the exercises you can do on a full Cadillac (a larger table with a metal frame that can be outfitted with attachments such as straps, handles, and bars). If that sounds good, you can buy a tower as an attachment, or go with a reformer that has one included, such as the Balanced Body Allegro Tower of Power.

Aero Pilates Premier Reformer

Aeropilates Premier Reformer
Credit: Amazon

If you're willing to go with a chord- rather than spring- loaded at-home Pilates machine, opt for the Aero Pilates Premier Reformer, which also saves you money. The bestselling option on Amazon is easy to assemble, operates smoothly, and feels sturdy, according to reviewers. It comes equipped with a cardio rebounder, which is typically sold separately as an optional attachment.

Lagree Fitness Fully-Loaded "Micro" Reformer

Lagree Micro Reformer
Credit: Lagree

If you prefer Lagree's burns-so-good classes to Pilates (the Lagree Fitness Method focuses on high-intensity bodybuilding techniques and low-impact movements, and Pilates for rehabilitation), you can avail yourself of the company's Micro Reformer. This is a smaller, lighter alternative to the Megaformer used in Lagree studios that incorporates springs. Sign up for a Lagree At Home subscription and you'll have everything you need to get in on the Rihanna-approved workout method at home.

Merrithew SPX Max Reformer with Vertical Stand Bundle

Merrithew SPX Max Vertical Reformer
Credit: Amazon

Maybe you don't have an expansive home gym and are still hesitant to give up a lot of precious real estate to a new Pilates reformer. You won't have to with the spring-equipped Merrithew SPX Max Reformer, since it includes a stand and wheels on both sides that allow you to easily store it vertically. (Related: The Megaformer-Inspired Pilates Workout to Sculpt and Tone)

Balanced Body Rialto Pilates Reformer

Balanced Body Rialto Reformer
Credit: Amazon

One of Balanced Body's more affordable reformers, the Rialto is designed for easy adjustments, so you'll be able to smoothly transition from one exercise to the next. It features five springs, an extra-cushy carriage pad, and a wide foot bar that adjusts to five positions and can be lowered to accommodate a jump board attachment.

Gratz 80" Classic Reformer in Aluminum

Gratz Reformer
Credit: Gratz

Plenty of studios are equipped with Gratz reformers, which the brand claims to be the original manufacturer of Pilates apparatuses. And you can have one for yourself. The Universal Reformer with springs comes in an aluminum or wood frame in 80", 86", and 89" lengths.