A Unique Way to Stretch and Strengthen – Reformer Pilates Review

Reformer pilates at Pilates HQ, London
Reformer pilates at Pilates HQ, London

The machines look like torture machines. But my first ever reformer pilates class at Pilates HQ in London, was anything but tortuous. In fact, I really enjoyed it!

In reformer pilates, the sliding carriage, cables, ropes, and pulleys, are used to modify exercises. This makes them them easier or harder as needed. It also adds another dimension to pilates, allowing you to do new exercises, like ‘squats’ (on your back).

I took a beginners’ free trial session at Pilates HQ in Islington, London. The studio was lovely, bright, and airy (and on the 4th floor! So I got a cardio workout walking up the stairs 😀 ).

Class began with a warm up, consisting of leg, core, and arm exercises. The instructor was attentive, always making sure that I knew what was going on despite being a newbie. We then moved through a series of whole body exercises, particularly challenging my upper body. My favourite moves included moving push ups, and using ropes for shoulder strength.

Reformer pilates vs mat pilates

Despite the benefits of reformer pilates, is it worth the extra cost compared to mat pilates? Well, the answer probably depends on how dedicated you are to pilates.

For experienced pilates geeks, reformer pilates is a great challenge. It helps you to move your body in different ways, and develop different muscles, from a normal class. You can also make your workouts more difficult, using the adjustable springs and ropes.

But for pilates newbies, I don’t think the extra cost of taking a reformer class would be worth it. Mat pilates can be modified using elastic resistance bands, straps, and blocks. While it doesn’t give you the same range of motion or variety as reformer pilates, it is much easier and cheaper to find mat pilates classes.

The verdict:

  • Coaching – 4/5
  • Difficulty – 3/5 (but can be modified)
  • Value for money – 2/5
  • Overall – 3/5


  • Adds extra challenge and variety to pilates
  • Works the whole body
  • Low impact, so good for people with injuries


  • Requires a lot of kit (understatement!), so can’t be practiced at home
  • Price – during my internet research, I couldn’t find a class in London for less than £10

I really enjoyed my reformer pilates session, and will be looking for more discounted/free classes. But, unless you’re an experienced and dedicated pilates lover, I don’t think the extra price and time to find a class is worth it. Any kind of pilates (or exercise!) is beneficial too.


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