• Nicole O'Donnell

What's the Difference Between Mat & Reformer Pilates?

Spring Studio Warkworth Reformer Pilates

The Mat

Mat work is the true foundation of Pilates. It is not the “beginner” version of the Reformer. It’s a challenging discipline in its own right. All of the skills that Pilates is known for developing can be acquired and refined by doing the Mat work. I believe that concentrating on how to move your body correctly without assistance is one of the best ways to start your Pilates journey.

Mat Pilates involves performing body-weight exercises and movements low to the ground and because exercising on the mat provides resistance against gravity, Mat Pilates focuses on developing and strengthening your arms and legs, stomach, lower and upper back muscles.

Simple, yet effective, all you need is a mat and yourself to do mat pilates.

Spring Studio Mat Pilates

The Reformer

While resistance training may bring thoughts of bicep curls or weighted squats, on the Reformer all of the muscles work against the resistance of the springs. The Reformer works the muscles in a balanced way, neither under nor over-training any of them.

Reformer Pilates, involves exercising using a bed-like piece of equipment which contains a sliding flat platform and adjustable strings. It is made up of a foot bar, straps and pulleys which add tension and resistance to your Pilates workout technique.

Reformer Pilates is much more dynamic and versatile as the machine allows you to perform a whole range of workouts in many different body positions, including lying down, standing, sitting, sideways, pulling the straps, pushing the foot bar and more.

Due to the adjustability of the reformer equipment, Reformer Pilates can be tailored to target one specific area, smaller muscle groups or the entire body, as well as adjusted specifically to your fitness and capability levels.

The Reformer is an amazing way to step up your practice or deepen control. It’s not only for experienced Pilates goers but also the perfect beginning apparatus for the first time Pilates person.  Reformer Pilates can be individual or group-based and can involve props as well. Since there are options for spring tension and countless exercises that can be done on the Reformer, it’s also a pivotal part of improving any Pilates practice to maintain a diverse repertoire and constant results.

Spring Studio Reformer Pilates

Which one is best for you?

Mat and Reformer Pilates complement one another beautifully.

While the Reformer and Mat are separate animals, they share a genetic DNA that is evident in the similarity of the exercises. The main difference between Mat and Reformer is that on the Mat, you use only your own body weight as resistance.

Both methods are beneficial for any skill level.  Instead of having a preference for one versus another, it’s actually the differences that promote further Pilates understanding. Learning to move correctly on both the mat and Reformer will only increase your strength level, the efficiency of movement throughout your day, and overall results.

The good news for the Pilates fan is that you don’t have to choose. In fact, you’ll get even more out of your Reformer workouts if you combine them with Mat, and vice versa, as Joseph Pilates intended.

Give both a go and see what you like - book your session here

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