Pilates props assist with support and deepening moves and are fun!

Equipment & Props

The reformer is complete as it is, however adding some reformer equipment to it makes it a lot more fun and really does add to the number of exercises that you can do on the machine! Here we look at the most common reformer equipment and props that you can use and size up the price, to see if these would be beneficial to your practice.

You should be aware that most reformers will not come with additional props and if these extras interest you, then they do come at an additional cost. However, this does allow you to select the exact extras that you want.

A note on Reformer equipment & props – they are really brand specific, if you have a Balanced Body Reformer, then you look for Balanced Body props.

The most common Reformer equipment & props – specific to Reformer

Be prepared to sweat with a Jump board – the cardio of Reformer

Jump board (Foot Plate) – the cardio of the Reformer

Jump boards up the cardio big time! The Jump board is placed at the foot of the reformer and locks into place, sometimes secured by the foot bar. Lying in supine you do just that, jump off the board and the carriage travels up the carriageway.

Most reformers do come with a jump board option if they are sturdy enough and the carriageway is long enough. Jump boards are well padded and should offer good support when you are rebounding off them. Some reformers do not have jump boards but rebounders instead, as the carriageway is shorter. Aero Pilates reformers have rebounders Aero Pilates reformer Plus 379 and Aero Pilates 700 reformer.

Jump board (Foot Plate) – the cardio of the Reformer

Things to look for in a Jump board

Padding – is the board well padded? You want good support when you jump off and when you land.

Length and width of jump board – should be broad. You don’t want to be missing the board! Does the board continue right to the frame? Good boards will continue right to the frame of the reformer, this way you can’t mistake putting your foot under the board!

Secure – jump boards should securely lock into place so when using there isn’t a great deal of movement from the board.

To add a jump board ranges from $200 to around $400 for Stott Pilates Merrithew jump board.

If you are looking to add a high cardio session or part to your reformer practice – this is it! The heart rate goes up and stays up when jumping off the board and we like it that it is on a very well padded service, beats pounding a concert pavement!

Pilates Sitting Box

Pilates Sitting Box

If you walk into a studio you will find a Pilates box. A box predominantly adds height to a reformer exercise, when sweeping your leg through, to lying on the box in prone swimming pose and swishing your arms through in the small straps, to traditional Joseph Pilates short box series, of round back, straight back, twist and tree.

When in a studio you will hear the Instructor use ‘long box position or short box position

The box is a very versatile prop and is synonymous with the reformer. It is usually used, up against the headrest, in either long box position or short box position. Long box position is where the box is placed with the long side running the length of the carriage, short box is where the box is placed up against the headrests and takes up the full carriage width.

To add a Pilates sitting box typically costs around $250. There are some reformer bundles that will include the sitting box with other props like the Merrithew V2 Max reformer bundle, which comes with the box, footpad extender, and dowel.

If we were to choose only 1 specific prop for the Reformer – the Pilates box would be it.

What is a Pilates Vertical Tower?

Now this is a more expensive addition to the reformer and will take your practice up a notch! The Pilates tower is secured to the back of the Reformer and allows you to add to arm, leg, and abdominal exercises. At first look, it looks a bit like a medieval torture device but it is made up of springs and levers which allow these further exercises for Pilates enthusiasts. The usual attachments you will find are the roll-back bar, arm springs, leg springs, and push-through bar.

Not all reformers will come with a vertical tower option, however, plenty do like Balanced Body Allegro 2, with tower retrofit kit and Elina Pilates Elite Convertible reformer with Tower.

It’s probably not going to be the first prop that you are going to run out and buy but never the less, it’s a ‘nice to have’ addition, if you want to further your practice and have the space.

Non-specific Reformer Equipment and Props

This equipment can be equally used for mat Pilates but makes a nice addition to exercises on the reformer. Don’t want to spend any more after your reformer purchase? The big win with this equipment is that it is very cheap compared to the reformer specific equipment. It also doesn’t take up much storage space and you can equally use it for mat exercises.

Pilates Ring

Pilates Ring on Amazon.comThis equipment can be equally used for mat Pilates but makes a nice addition to exercises on the reformer. Don’t want to spend any more after your reformer purchase? The big win with this equipment is that it is very cheap compared to the reformer specific equipment. It also doesn’t take up much storage space and you can equally use it for mat exercises.

A note on the  Pilates Ring – the padded parts you put between your hands, knees, feet. However, with the hamstring stretch, your feet will be up in the actual ring part and you grip the bottom of the actual ring with an underhand grip, pulling your feet back towards your nose.

The Pilates Ring is a useful and versatile prop.

Small Soft Ball

Small Soft Ball on Amazon.com

This is a common prop to be found in a Studio. Like the Pilates ring, it can be placed between the knees, ankles, and hands. It can also be placed under the sacrum, to further test your balance with moves as legs in tabletop. Some instructions will also have you stand on the ball, placing your heel on the ball for particular exercises. These groups of exercises will test and improve your balance and allows for specific muscle engagement.

We highly recommend have a small soft ball both for Reformer and Mat Pilates, it is a very cheap item to purchase and can be used in so many ways.

A note about the ball – don’t over inflate the ball! You want it soft so you can squish it between and under body parts!

A last word about the ball

A soft ball makes the prefect headrest! Placing between the shoulder pads and doing any sideline work, it is super comfortable and aligns to your head and neck position. In fact, we love it some much that we often use the soft ball instead of any of the 3 normal headrest positions on the Reformer.

Hand Weights/ Dumbbells

Hand weights on Amazon.com

Want to up your arm work in your reformer practice?  Hand weights are found in most studios, there will be different hand weights of 2lb, 4lb, 6lb, and sometimes 8lb to be used. These are ideal for arm warm-up work. Lying on your back when completing footwork, you can use weights for chest press, fly, alternative overhead prancing.

Just make sure when you aren’t using these weights you place them clearly out of the way of your reformer, the last thing you want to be doing is be tripping over them!

As you progress with your practice you will find that you can increase the weight. If you don’t do much upper body weight lifting start light, maybe 2lb or 3lb before you start lifting with heavier weights.

Dowel Stick

Dowel Stick

Wow, this is a little beauty! It is super cheap, literally a stick, so you can probably find it out in the garage or at your local hardware shop. The dowel stick is one of our favorites, why? Because it’s just so simple. Try sitting on your Pilates box (short box position) with a good palm distance behind you, all springs on, feet under the foot strap, arms straight holding the dowel stick out at shoulder height, now find your straight back position and lean back! Feel your abs working here! Nice work. Now find a ‘C’ curve back as you rollback. Now try some lateral side movements. We love this series.

You can also loop the straps through the dowel stick for a chest press or overhead tricep curls.

Final Word

We really do like Pilates props, they are fun.  They add to the variety of the exercises so you will never get bored!

See you on the reformer!