What the Heck is a Reformer?


The Reformer - or the “Universal Reformer” as Mr. Pilates originally called it - is one of the most recognizable pieces of equipment in Pilates. Despite it's distinction, we find that many students are often unaware of its incredible versatility and benefits. Below, we share exactly what to expect from this equipment and the exercises, and why we're confident you'll have a transformative experience at Kinetic MKE. 

For starters, the Reformer exercises will never bore you. Each unique, fluid movement helps your body move against resistance, building strength and stability. You may be laying down, sitting upright, standing, or even sideways. In other words, this single piece of equipment is capable of training several parts and dynamics of the body all at once.

Although it's a powerful tool in the Pilates Method, the right instructor will integrate the Reformer with additional Mat exercises or other equipment satisfy a student's individual needs. 

Let's Talk Equipment


At first glance, the appearance of a Reformer might look a little intimidating. Don't be frightened - once you feel and understand the benefits, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any other piece of apparatus that can do what the Reformer can do!

You’ll see the Reformer is comprised of a frame (either wood or metal), with inset tracks. On these tracks, you will find an upholstered carriage that moves as you push and pull it back and forth. The carriage connects to springs at one end, and at the other end you'll find straps and handles for your hands and feet.

Mr. Pilates referred to the springs as “extra muscles”! To make something more challenging in Pilates, we take the springs away, rather than what is popularly done in fitness of adding more load.


And, while all this might sound like the making of the next 50 Shades of Grey book or movie, a Reformer does have your comfort and technique in mind. By the spring end of the Reformer, there is a footbar. You'll also find head and shoulder rests, a box, pole, and pads, which help to accurately guide you through each movement.

What Makes The Reformer Unique?

Here's where we clear up the assumption that it's just another piece of “exercise equipment”. Most of the machines in a gym are set up for you to “work against”, but the Reformer is more like a partner system. A student and protege of Mr. Pilates once said this about the Reformer: 


The wheels and springs move in such a way that incorporates your entire body, not just a certain set of muscles. Through this movement, we create deep core strength, correct imbalances, and promote dynamic balance around all of the joints, especially the spine.

There's no guessing on proper form, either. During your hour-long session at Kinetic MKE, you’ll have our knowledgeable instructors offering adjustments as you move through these flowing, progressive, and full-body exercises.

What Students Love About The Reformer



Kinetic MKE students can't stop sharing with us the improvements they have seen in their posture. Better yet? The exercises teach them the awareness to correct their own improper posture outside of the studio, such as during their commute or while at their desk.


Like much of the Pilates Method, the Reformer can aid in a faster recovery from injury. With endless variations, students with an injury are able to strengthen muscles without unnecessary weight bearing.

Cross-Training/Full-Body Workout

The entire body is working harmoniously together on the Reformer. Therefore, we cultivate a unique quality of endurance because you literally never get to rest in Pilates! Students see an incredible improvement in:

  • core stabilization
  • muscle endurance
  • balance
  • peripheral joint stability

Not to mention the notable amount of concentration and focus that is required to complete exercises with proper form. All of which are vital to any athlete! 

Additionally, it's important that we focus on accurate muscle engagement for the “powerhouse” muscles, i.e. core, hips, lower back, and glutes. Strengthening these muscles will lead to more efficient movement and for many, pain relief.

You know what's beautiful about the Pilates Method? We see these improvements across all levels of physical ability. Whether you are new to the Reformer or the Pilates Method as a whole, we believe the experience we provide at Kinetic MKE is unique. Ready to get moving?