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What exactly are the differences between Reformer, Mat and Barre Pilates?

22 Jan 2023

Pilates offers three common variations. But how do they differ?

Reformer Pilates is a type of Pilates that uses a machine called a reformer, which consists of a sliding carriage, straps, and springs to add resistance and support to traditional Pilates exercises. The machine allows for a wider range of movement and can provide a more intense workout for people of all fitness levels. Reformer Pilates is known for targeting specific muscle groups and can help with improving posture, balance, and flexibility. It's also beneficial for people recovering from injuries or with specific physical limitations.

Mat Pilates, on the other hand, is the traditional form of Pilates that is done on a mat and does not use any equipment. This type of Pilates focuses on the core muscles, and it's a low-impact workout that can help with improving balance, flexibility, and overall strength. It's often seen as a more accessible form of Pilates, as it does not require special equipment and can be done anywhere.

Barre Pilates is a fitness class that combines elements of ballet, Pilates, and cardio to tone and strengthen the entire body. This type of Pilates is done at a ballet barre, and it's an intense workout that targets the legs, glutes, and core. It's a high-energy workout that can help with burning calories and improving cardiovascular fitness. Barre Pilates classes also typically include a mix of strength training and stretching for an overall full-body workout.

Reformer Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates, who invented the reformer machine in the 1920s. Mat Pilates, is the original form of Pilates as developed by Joseph Pilates himself. Barre Pilates is a more recent development, which combines elements of traditional Pilates, ballet, and cardio. It was popularized in the late 20th century and has grown in popularity in recent years.


  1. "The Reformer: Pilates' Revolutionary New Approach to Whole Body Health" by Brooke Siler.

  2. "Return to Life Through Contrology" by Joseph Pilates.

  3. "The Bar Method: The Proven Barre Technique for Losing Inches and Achieving the Perfect Body" by Burr Leonard.

  4. "Pilates: Body in Motion" by Rael Isacowitz

  5. "The Pilates Body: The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening and Toning Your Body- Without Machines" by Brooke Siler.

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