The Dynamic Fitness Guide to Classical Pilates Apparatus

Like many gyms, our Pilates studio is wall-to-wall with equipment. That’s about where the similarities end. You’ll rarely see machines like these at even the most modern gym, and that’s because the founder of Pilates developed many of them specifically for his exercise method. Getting acquainted with them will transform the way you work out.

ReformerReformer – The Reformer was developed and designed by Joseph Pilates himself, and was one of the first exercise machines that he successfully patented back in the 1930s. Many reformer exercises are performed supine (lying on the back), which eases any strain on the joints and allows students to practice aligning the body. The Reformer is truly the centerpiece of the classical Pilates studio, and Dynamic Fitness hosts several group classes per week dedicated to this integral apparatus.


CadillacCadillac – When you visit our studio, the first thing to catch your eye may not be the long, low Reformer. It’ll probably be the Cadillac that you spot first — and wonder what on earth is that?? The Cadillac resembles the frame of a tall, four-poster bed, rigged with springs, slings, push-through bars, and even a trapeze! In the Cadillac we can clearly see where Pilates first developed his fitness method: in the British internment camps of WWI, where he modified his fellow Germans’ hospital beds so even the most sickly and injured could exercise and, to borrow from the inventor, “return to life.”


Electric ChairElectric Chair – The Electric Chair can look a little scary with its high back, shoulder-height handles, and moveable foot bar attached to heavy springs. However, the purpose of the Electric or “High” Chair is quite therapeutic. As the high back supports the spine during seated exercises, you become the source of “electricity” as you focus energy in your powerhouse and shoot it out through your legs.



Wunda chairWunda Chair – The history of this apparatus is pretty fascinating. Throughout his career, Joe Pilates was obsessed with the idea of creating a line of “exercise furniture,” modular pieces that could save space in posh New York apartments by doubling as workout machines. Along with the Reformer, the Wunda Chair is one of the few apparatus from the line of “Pilates Automatic Balanced Health Furniture” that’s in popular use today. One minute it’s a chic little chair — the next, it’s a sturdy support for the Push-Down, Pull-Up, Swan, and a host of other exercises.

Magic CircleMagic Circle – Pilates’s dedication to health and wellness are legendary; his love of good beer is the stuff of legend as well. The late Pilates elder Romana Kryzanowska suggested that his sudsy fondness led to the development of the Magic Circle. The springy hoop that we use to enhance leg and arm exercises may have been inspired from the metal hoops encircling the kegs of Pilates’ favorite brew. And the Half-Barrel? Yeah, we think you get it, too!


Jump BoardJump Board – The Jump Board is not one of Pilates’ original inventions; it was actually prototyped in the late ’80s by NASA scientists to simulate the effects of weightlessness on astronauts-in-training. However, from its beginnings the Pilates method has been profoundly popular among professional dancers and gymnasts. For these athletes, practicing and strengthening their jump is a critical exercise. The original manufacturer of Pilates equipment, Gratz Design, modified NASA’s prototype to fit the Reformer, and the Jump Board was born.

Jump Board exercises are performed supine on the reformer, and they’re a great way to add extra cardio to your routine and end a workout on an exhilarating high note!

Come see these fascinating machines in person at the Dynamic Fitness studio, and talk to your instructor if you are interested in adding any of the classical Pilates apparatus to your workout routine.

“The Father of Invention” by Regina Joseph. Pilates Style September/October 2006.

Photos of Pilates apparatus courtesy of Peak PilatesĀ®:

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Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about our Pilates classes, rates, or scheduling. You can also follow us on Facebook. Thanks!

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The "Return to Life": Pilates after an Injury Recently the studio has received a lot of inquiries from people who are at their wits' end with fitness: "Nothing works." "I'm in pain every day." "I've tried everything I can think of.""Will Pilates help me?"For someone who suffers an injury or undergoes an operation, rehabilitating the body is critical to the healing process, which is still ongoing after physical therapy concludes. We meet many people who have been signed off as "all better" by their healthcare providers, but now are unsure what the next step is. The fact is, they don't feel all better. There's still a lot of work to be done. But after physical therapy, getting a gym membership isn't a solution. A lot of these people are wondering, "Where can I go?"We're so glad you asked! At Dynamic Fitness, we understand that someone recovering from an injury or surgery needs an exercise regimen that is careful, personal, and adaptable. A classical Pilates studio provides just such an environment. It's important that your physician has first cleared you for exercise before beginning a Pilates regimen. At Dynamic Fitness, we can only start working with new clients who are recuperating from surgery or an injury once their doctors can recommend physical exercise. Once you've passed this milestone, however, you're ready to discover a fitness method that can be just as gentle and safe as it is effective. The classical Pilates method includes over 300 motions, and this already broad vocabulary has the potential to explode when you work with an experienced, certified instructor. The instructors at Dynamic Fitness are deeply knowledgeable about modifications to each exercise that can accommodate the places that are still healing, while you continue to reap the benefits of a full-body workout.The Pilates apparatus are also designed for accessibility and refined control. Take, for example, the springs of the Reformer and Tower, with different weights to support or challenge the muscles depending on your needs. You can also get a lot of work done on the Cadillac, which in many ways resembles a traditional physical therapy or massage table. It's just the right height to make mounting and dismounting easy, and you can work out the entire body on its strong, stable frame. When you're going through physical rehab, all your energy and focus goes to the part of the body that you're trying to fix. In Pilates, we don't focus on the problem. Instead, we work with you to condition the body whole. Instead of thinking in terms of what is broken, we think in terms of what really works. Our clients tell us this makes a dramatic difference in achieving physical restoration and a feeling of radiant wellbeing.Have you reached your wits' end with fitness? Don't give up! Call or email Dynamic Fitness to discuss the challenges you're currently facing, and learn more about the power of Pilates to restore your body and rejuvenate your life.Contact us: