What’s the difference? Mat vs. Reformer Pilates

What’s the difference? Mat vs. Reformer Pilates

During his lifetime, exercise legend, Joseph Pilates, developed more than 600 exercises for the mat and a variety of exercise equipment that he designed, including the “universal reformer”. These exercises were developed to improve flexibility, posture, movement, body awareness, and, most importantly, core strength.

So, what’s the difference between a Pilates Mat workout vs. a Reformer workout? To begin with, Mat Pilates is just what the name says — exercises done on the floor. It primarily focuses on core control. In Mat Pilates you are using your body weight as resistance. It can be a fast paced, non-stop workout with 50 or more exercises to challenge you.

The benefits of a mat workout are:

  • No equipment needed – just a mat
  • Less expensive
  • Easy to incorporate into a regular exercise program at home
  • More gyms offer mat workouts

Reformer Pilates workouts are done using a Reformer machine which looks a like a bed with springs and pulleys. The idea is that you’re using the mechanical resistance in the springs and pulleys to target your muscles. There are over 250 exercises that you do using the Reformer, and the workout is generally more intense and dynamic.

Unlike the Mat workout that focuses mainly on your core, a Reformer workout will give your arms and legs a good workout, too.

The benefits of a Reformer workout are:

  • Works the entire body, including arms, legs, and deep muscle groups
  • Great for rehab and therapeutic purposes
  • More variety to the workout

Which type of Pilates is right for you?

Beginners to Pilates often start with a mat workout so that they can learn the basics involved in the exercises. It’s important for beginners because the emphasis is on muscle control. After a few short months of mat work, you should see positive results with improvements in posture, strength, flexibility and muscle tone.

For intermediate and advanced level students who have a good foundation, Reformer workouts are a good choice because they offer more overall body strength training, more variations on the traditional exercises, and often, more one-on-one attention from a trainer. Reformer Pilates are also a great option for people with injuries or a limited range motion.

Training with the pros

Propel Pilates and Fitness, located in Rancho Bernardo, offers both Mat Pilates group sessions and a wide range of Reformer classes for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced student. We offer private one-on-one sessions with one of our expert instructors and semi-private sessions for two to four students. Classes involve two to six students working with one or two trainers.

At Propel, we require that you take 3-5 private sessions so that you can learn the basics of a Pilates workout and how to correctly use the equipment.

If you’re looking for San Diego Reformer Pilates or Mat classes, visit our website to see our class schedule. Try both Mat and Reformer Pilates and decide which one is right for you.