Which method is for you? If you’re new to the world of pilates, differentiating between mat and reformer pilates may seem confusing. Both methods originate from decades back; Joseph Pilates founded pilates through soldiers that needed rehabilitating, using beds as a place to strengthen and rehabilitate the soldiers back to recovery. In the modern day pilates has evolved and grown into a worldwide phenomenon. We still have mat and reformer pilates - but how do we differentiate one to the other? 


Mat pilates is focused on your body weight - it is just you, the mat and occasionally some additional props (e.g. ankle/hands weights, magic circle once you progress). There is a myth that mat is less challenging than the reformer, however both can build your strength and originate from the same fundamentals. With mat pilates, you solely use your body weight which can prove more challenging. The reason being, there is no pressure release from the reformer springs which creates that resistance.  For those that want to incorporate pilates into their daily routine or are constantly on the go, mat can be the most accessible option. For many, mat pilates is their go to - it is just you and the mat, anytime anywhere. You can feel more grounded and in touch with your own body whilst strength building through your own body weight.


Despite originating in World War I, to this day the reformer resembles a bed-like frame; it has springs, pulleys, ropes and a moving carriage. Despite evolving throughout the years you can still see where this originates from, a lot of the repertoire staying the same. The reformer provides both support and resistance for your body, whilst also being incredible for lengthening the body; the beds apparatus helps to create internal pressure to do so. It is a myth you have to start with mat pilates - if it is your first time doing pilates you can go straight to the reformer. It is key you get to know the springs and their respective weights - to ensure you have enough resistance whilst you build up strength. 

Which one is for you?

Whether you start with mat or reformer, there is no right or wrong; both methods will be adapted to your level whilst challenging you and teaching you the fundamentals. If you decide to take on one method or mix the two, any type of pilates will transform your physicality as well as your mental being. 

 Article written by Emma VS.


Emma VS is a classically trained Pilates instructor with Basi - a world leader in Teaching Training and Education. Emma specialises in classical pilates, combining the classical repertoire with contemporary movement to beautifully sculpt, lengthen and tone the body. She works with clients on a one-to-one basis to hone in on technique and personal goals, ensuring sustainable and long term results. To book a consultation with Emma please email studio@emvspilates.com. Follow Emma for all things pilates & wellness @emvictoria.s.