Reformer Pilates vs Mat Pilates: The Ultimate Question


We get it, that reformer bed can be scary, but it's definitely not your only option when it comes to Pilates. Enter the mat, the flat thing that lays on the floor with no springs or moving parts or straps that you have to somehow manoeuvre your feet into.


Don't get us wrong, we do love and appreciate the reformer bed and think it absolutely has a place in the Pilates world (Chloe taught Reformer Pilates for many years!), we just believe that mat Pilates can be equally as challenging!


Mat Pilates can fly under the radar in comparison to its well publicised reformer cousin. Reformer studios are popping up all over the shop and faster than I can say ‘juicy circle’ so no wonder they're all the hype. But when you go to your first reformer Pilates class and the instructor is chanting out a list of colours that somehow are meant to resemble springs and placing your hands on one end and feet on the other balancing yourself whilst holding a strap, things can get pretty hectic.


Sounds chaotic hey? Well we've been there, and that's why we wanted to tell you about how awesome mat Pilates can be at achieving the same results as a reformer bed sans the post traumatic stress.


Is mat Pilates as effective as reformer Pilates?


One hundred percent yes! As a physiotherapist myself, I totally understand the importance of a reformer bed for injury rehabilitation and strengthening but I wholeheartedly believe that you can get the exact same results from mat Pilates and here is why.


Firstly, don't underestimate the power (and pain) of using body weight as resistance. Body weight exercises can be super challenging (push ups we are looking at you) and ultimately work the muscles in the same way that adding external resistance does.


However, that doesn't mean that mat Pilates is purely body weight workouts, the beauty of it is the addition of all these cute little toys we call Pilates props. We are talking Pilates rings, blocks and resistance/thera bands that can be added into your mat Pilates workout to give it that extra kick and bring it to the next level.


Our fave thing about mat Pilates is the incorporation of flexibility exercises to also help the body recover and calibrate. How often have you gotten off a reformer bed and not stretched? Well it's easy to stretch both during and after mat Pilates because you're already down on the ground and in full position to stretch. Not to mention here at Go Chlo Pilates we have an entire class folder full of classes solely based on stretching alone. Mat Pilates is wonderful for improving flexibility and giving those joints the mobility they need to continue building strength.


Ultimately, the goal for both is the same; to improve strength and stability within the core, lower body and upper body to improve muscle control, coordination, posture, balance and flexibility, mat Pilates and reformer Pilates are related after all.


4 mat Pilates workouts that are just as effective as reformer Pilates


This first one is a killer, using sliders (or tea towels). Sliders are great for mimicking the carriage movement and leave you with that shaky goodness!


Grab some sliders (or in my case some tea towels) for a 45 strength class



Forget the straps, and grab your hand weights to work your shoulder, triceps and everything in between. You only need 14 minutes for this one!


14 minute arm strength with weights, including alotta triceps!



If you think your glutes hurt on a reformer bed, we dare you to try this. 45 minutes of booty band Pilates to fire up those glutes - sorry about this one!

The booty band doesn't come off for the whole class meaning your glutes will feel the strongest they ever have!



Get ready to feel those abs, this class does not quit! Use a ball or block to help fire up your muscles and get that slow reformer bed core burn.

Ball or block for this FIERY 30 min class. Lots of abdominals, shoulders and glutes!