I saw something on social media this week that set me off. Let’s be honest; this is not that unusual; however, it came from another Pilates instructor whom I have come to respect and enjoy her programming. She made a reel saying that no prop (she used the foam roller) could replace the reformer. She did it in a pretty condescending way. I am not writing a whole blog post bashing this other instructor; I want to argue why other instructors, me included, film classes and program workouts that, try to emulate the work we do in the reformer.
Let me start by saying she is absolutely correct that there is no piece of equipment that can take the place of the reformer. It is a truly masterful and one-of-a-kind piece of apparatus. I love my reformer and jokingly refer to her as one of my children, particularly when we have to pack up and move all over the world. I am incredibly blessed to own my reformer and have access to one whenever I want.
My studio reformer was built in California by Blanaced Body, Inc. If I were to purchase one new today (without the tower), it would cost me $4400, plus $264 in tax and $365 in freight to have it shipped across the country to Virginia where my permanent residence is located. That is a grade total of $5,029.00.
Most people would find that cost to be prohibitive; fair enough. So you decide to go to a Pilates studio. Great! You decided to join a group class or opt for a one-on-one setting. Awesome. Depending on where you live, a group reformer class will cost anywhere from $30-$50 a session. Maybe more in a large city on the east or west coast of the USA. This is compared to a private one-on-one session that will run you anywhere from $75 to $125+ a session. This is absolutely worth the money if that is available to you. You cannot beat the benefits you get from in-person training with an instructor, especially in a small group or one-on-one setting.
Here is the problem, many people do not have the money, time, and ability to do the above.
That is no small chunk of change. Of course, I don’t expect you to purchase your own reformer (honestly, it would be downright dangerous if you were not being trained by a professional), but taking classes in a studio can start to add up. If you have the money, it is absolutely worth it, but if you don’t, I would much rather you do Pilates on the mat with props than do no Pilates at all.
The time commitment is real. You have to account for travel time as well as your session time. If you are a busy working adult with or without children, this can be hard to manage with everything else you have going on. If you live in a big city, there is traffic to account for, and if you don’t, you may have to travel long distances to get to a class.
Maybe you only have 30 minutes to work out. I would much rather you get in a quick and effective 30-minute class on the mat at home than skip a 55-minute class in a studio.
Not everyone lives near a Pilates Studio. I know this is shocking to my friends on the east and west coast, but this girl grew up in the Midwest in a small town, and there was not a Pilates Studio where I grew up within 30 miles. My parents still live in a small town, and if I want to go to a studio when I am visiting them, I have to drive at least 30 minutes to get to one.
Many people are more comfortable working out at home. Period! Studios and gyms with people walking around in head-to-toe Lululemon can be super intimidating. I get that! Even though I know plenty of studios that do a fantastic job welcoming new clients, it can be a hard environment. Even as a Pilates instructor, when I visit a new studio, I can feel it, and I can’t imagine how hard it is for someone with no experience. (This is also why I ran a private studio while living stateside, intimate settings can feel more approachable and accessible even if they are more expensive).
My online membership and virtual sessions were born from a desire to get more people doing Pilates. Using props (roller, TRX, weights, balls, etc.) on the mat to mimic the reformer’s work keeps the programming interesting, challenging, and accessible for everyone, regardless of experience. It makes this fantastic method more accessible to more people no matter how much money they have or where they live. Joseph Pilates famously said, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness” and “change happens through movement, and movement heals.” I wholeheartedly agree with both and have dedicated my professional life to helping as many people as possible find and experience this method on and off the reformer.