Reformer Pilates: A Beginner’s Guide + Why I’m Obsessed

Categories Wellness

Whenever I give advice about becoming healthier or am trying to convince yet another friend that they actually like working out, there’s one thing I always say, “Find something you love and always try new things.” It’s the foundation of what’s changed my relationship with fitness over the years as well as what gets me out of a workout rut. I stay curious.

So when Keely finally opened her reformer pilates studio this fall, I was beyond excited to finally try out regular classes. I’ve dabbled over the years. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m always trying new classes. It’s kind of my thing. But reformer? Well I knew we would be besties. 

Thankfully, my instincts were right and reformer has become a regular part of my life. So today I’m teaming up with Keely & Palm Pilates Studio to dive into Reformer Pilates. I’m sharing all of my impressions, why I like it and how I’ve worked it into my routine. We’ve got lots of ground to cover today so let’s get started!

Reformer Pilates- A Beginner's Guide & Why I'm Obsessed #whatsavvysaid #wellnessblogger #reformerpilates #palmpilates

What Is Reformer Pilates?

If I had to describe reformer to someone who only sees the photo of the machine, think ballet, mixed with barre mix with yoga. But on a machine that provides resistance to increase the challenge of it. So you get the low-impact benefits of yoga with the added bonus of weight lifting resistance.

However, I did ask Keely, my go to instructor & the owner of Palm Pilates Studio how she would describe it and she said, “A Pilates workout on the reformer takes the basic mind-body Pilates method up a notch. Resistance with springs on a moveable carriage using a footbar and pulling straps to enhance strength, mobility and flexibility. The Pilates reformer is a low-impact workout that can help transform the whole body.”

Thoughts After My First Class?

The very first time I tried a reformer class it was a private one. I talked one of my friends into going with, as I often do, and it was a genuine blast. It felt much more like yoga than I’d anticipated. But I really enjoyed the pacing of the class.

What’s the difference between reformer & regular pilates?

Reformer Pilates is a type of pilates performed on a machine/carriage. Each machine is equipped with straps, springs to provide resistance, a moving bed (aka the carriage), a footboard, and a bar. Additionally, you can add a box, pilates ring, a ball as well a few other items into the mix.

With regular pilates, you might have the other bits to increase the intensity of it. But you don’t have the ability to do the low impact resistance. I also find that reformer pilates in general just forces me to activate my core more.

Where can you do reformer pilates?

Typically, reformer is done in studios meaning you’re not likely to find it in your traditional gym. But a quick google search will tell you the closest near you. 

Reformer Pilates- A Beginner's Guide & Why I'm Obsessed #whatsavvysaid #wellnessblogger #reformerpilates #palmpilates
Reformer Pilates- A Beginner's Guide & Why I'm Obsessed #whatsavvysaid #wellnessblogger #reformerpilates #palmpilates


Of all the workouts I do (weight lifting, running, peloton, etc), I’ve found that reformer is both the best recovery & core workout in my routine. It’s helped me to increase strength in my ankles & knees. I don’t wear shoes with pilates so my ankles are forced to step it up to stabilize my body.


Obviously, this is going to depend on how often you go and what kind of results you’re looking for. I’d say increased flexibility is something you’ll see more quickly than say ab or glute definition. 


The national average is between $25-$35 per class. However, that’s not considering monthly studio packages or initial class discounts. I know Palm Pilates Studio offers the first-class discount bringing the cost to $18. Some studios will offer week-long trials for $1. So the cost varies quite a bit.


Because we all know that Facebook hears our lives, I’ve seen ads for what I’m sure some would consider an at-home dupe. TBH it’s not the same at all. There are somethings you could replicate. But unless you have a reformer machine in your house, it’s going to be regular pilates not reformer.

Reformer Pilates- A Beginner's Guide & Why I'm Obsessed #whatsavvysaid #wellnessblogger #reformerpilates #palmpilates


It’s amazing if you’re recovering from an injury, looking to increase flexibility, or want a more low-impact workout. I love the community where I go. And it’s also just lots of fun. Keely (@palmpilatesstudio) will often share videos from our workouts on stories. We had a jump board day Friday morning and I’m still sore two days later. Lots of laughs. A great workout. It’s just a great vibe.


Depending on your budget, it’s not necessarily in everyone’s price range.


Everyone. I LOVE a good push yourself workout but sometimes I just need to reconnect & recenter with my body. And I always find I do that with reformer. Whether it’s noticing tension in my hips because I’ve slacked on stretching with runs or ankle weakness that I’m working on, there’s something that everyone can benefit from.


If you’re new to WSS, you may not know that I’ve been quite adamant about not enjoying group fitness classes. More often than not I find the focus is on speed over form which I do not prefer. Do I try them? Yes. Because like I said, “Stay curious.”

Thankfully, Keely’s classes are different. I feel both mentally and physically refreshed after a reformer class. It’s my time to socialize as well as recenter. 

Reformer Pilates- A Beginner's Guide & Why I'm Obsessed #whatsavvysaid #wellnessblogger #reformerpilates #palmpilates


Typically, I’ll add reformer into my workout routine once a week. It’s one of my two active recovery days.


If you’ve never been, let the teacher know. You might find you need less tension on the springs or more for it to be effective. You’ll also really want to be able to focus on form. You don’t know what you don’t know. And in general, it’s fairly straight forward. But don’t be afraid to modify as needed.


If you don’t follow Kim K on insta, then you may have no idea what I’m talking about. But she’s been sharing her two a day workouts for the last few months. And one of those is pilates. However, it’s not your traditional reformer. So of course, I went to the expert and her answer was Pilates Cadillac. 

Which is “The Cadillac is a specialized piece of Pilates equipment. It consists of a trapeze table that allows you to work against gravity, a flat table for lying poses and spring loaded attachments for strengthening. There are also ‘fuzzy loops’ and tall bars that a user can hang onto for more gravity based exercise,” according to Keely.

She also noted that Palm Pilates Studio will have this class available in private form soon.

Reformer Pilates- A Beginner's Guide & Why I'm Obsessed #whatsavvysaid #wellnessblogger #reformerpilates #palmpilates
Reformer Pilates- A Beginner's Guide & Why I'm Obsessed #whatsavvysaid #wellnessblogger #reformerpilates #palmpilates


When I asked on instagram which post you guys wanted to see this week first, a good majority of you said this one. I think you guys can tell I love it. I’m not someone who enjoys rushing through a workout. I want to take my time, do it right and really feel like I accomplished something on the other side. It’s as much a mental release as it is a physical one for me.

And while I enjoy yoga, I love pilates 100x more. Personally, I struggle with weak wrists so I find the low impact of reformer helps me recover from runs and lifting more easily.

All in all, it’s safe to say that reformer is one of my newest obsessions. Truth be told, I manifested having this as a part of my life a while ago. And it’s everything I hoped it would be and more!

If you’re in the Panhandle area, be sure to check out Palm Pilates Studio and tell Keely I sent you. Also, I’d love to know if you’ve tried reformer near you. I love chatting with you guys in DMs so come let me know on instagram. And if you want a better look at what a class looks like, check out this week’s vlog. Until next time friends. Xoxo, Savvy

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