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Mat or Equipment

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

If you are new to pilates chances are you didn't know pilates can be done both on a mat as well as on some machines.

Mat and Arc Barrel

Mat Pilates

You use your own body weight on the floor, therefore you must be comfortable with lying on back, side or front.

A Pilates mat is slightly thicker than a yoga mat to accommodate all spinal mobility moves. The individual must be capable of sitting and getting up from the floor. Movements are generally body weight or incorporating slight resistance from elastic bands, loops or light dumbbells.

Other small props such as toning balls, magic circle, arc barrel, etc can be included in order to diversify the class, increase the challenge, and/or make support for people who need it.

Size of a mat class is usually larger than the equipment one because equipment themselves are quite bulky and allow for limited students in each class.

Ladder Barrel and Stability Chair


"I was lying on the back with my hands strapped to springs and feet hooked on a metal bar"... Oh, I see. you were doing a Reformer class!

Ladder, Chair, wonder if we're talking about a form of exercise here!!! Well, Joseph Pilates the very founder of Pilates method was so creative and curious to develop his movements that he invented all these pieces. Reformer, Cadillac, Stability Chair and Ladder Barrel are the sizable equipment of pilates that you may find all or some at every Pilates studio. The first two are larger than the last two with Cadillac being the largest.

Except Ladder Barrel all use springs as resistance for moves and they come with a variety of attachments and accessories. Reformer and Chair are common for group classes while Cadillac and Ladder Barrel are used for 1:1 sessions.

Size of an equipment class is usually 7-12. You'd expect to pay more for an equipment class as purchasing and maintaining those machines require noticeable investment.

Which one?

While principles of Pilates are the foundation for any form of it, there are certain things to consider when joining a Mat or an Equipment class and it's not the matter of which is harder.

If you are completely new to Pilates it's best to start with Mat and learn the principles and basic moves. Having said that you may be a novice but with an injury, then equipment can be a better option. Your Pilates instructor is the best to help you.

Remember that supervision is a must when working on Pilates equipment as they can potentially injure you if the moves are not done correctly and with control.


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