Pilates machines are specially designed, spring-resistant exercise apparatuses. The most commonly used Pilates machines include the reformer, the Cadillac, the ladder barrel, the arc barrel, the spine corrector and the wunda (foot) chair. To get the maximum benefit from using Pilates machines, work on the machines should always be supervised by a trained Pilates instructor.
Joseph Pilates designed the machines so that they resist your movements in “just the right way so those inner muscles really have to work against it.” This enables you to concentrate on movement. Pilates on the machines is designed to be done slowly and smoothly. Your entire body is engaged in the movement.
The reformer is the most common piece of Pilates equipment. It has a moving carriage. The color-coded springs provide resistance from the machine. By hooking or unhooking the different color springs, the resistance is either increased or decreased. Different-colored springs are used for different exercises on the reformer. After performing a movement with the equipment providing all the support and stability, one or more of the springs is removed. You then need to work harder to compensate for the change in tension. Using the reformer alone can provide a complete body workout, exercising your core muscles and your extremities.
Originally devised by Joseph Pilates to rehabilitate bedridden patients, the Cadillac looks like a tabletop surrounded by four poles. A variety of bars, straps, and push and pull levers are attached to the poles that frame the table. More than 80 different exercises that work the core muscles, help develop flexibility, strengthen the back and shoulders, and stretch the entire body can be performed on the Cadillac. The Cadillac is often used for people who are unable to get on and off the floor easily; it can be used for physical therapy and can offer more movement possibilities for the body than the reformer.
The Ladder Barrel, Arc Barrel and Spine Corrector
The ladder barrel and arc barrel are upholstered arches that help support the back and shoulders. The ladder barrel has a ladder attached at the side. The barrels allow you to bend forward and backwards, and to isolate deep abdominal muscles. The spine corrector, as its name implies, is used to strengthen and lengthen the back, shoulders, legs and torso.
The Wunda Chair
The wunda chair looks like a chair until you remove the pad and flip it over. The wunda chair allows for adjustment of resistance levels through springs. It helps promote back health by teaching awareness of spine alignment and strengthening the muscles that support the spine. It is often used to help relieve back pain and improve balance.