How To Use A Reformer Machine?

Reformer pilates are all the rage these days, with an increasing number of people signing up for pilates studios and buying reformer machines for home use. In fact, in 2023, over 1.1 million people in Australia above the age of fifteen participated in pilates! If you’re as surprised by these fascinating statistics as we are, you might be itching to get your hands on a reformer machine to see what all the buzz is about. 

However, a reformer machine is quite the complex apparatus to beginners who’re new to working out or are transitioning from mat to reformer pilates. It can seem quite daunting at the beginning but once you understand the fundamentals of using the machine, you’ll be able to tailor your routines easily to get the best results. Keep reading ahead to figure out the ABCs of using reformers for home use.

Parts Of A Reformer Machine

Moving Carriage

The reformer moving carriage is a platform with reels that is attached to the machine’s springs. As you push and pull your muscle groups throughout the workout, this platform is where you will be sitting, standing, or lying down. Due to the weight pressed against these carriages, they are often made from robust material to ensure that they provide the right support and comfort. If a carriage creaks often or feels a bit unsteady, you should immediately contact the manufacturer and relay your concern. 


The springs form the backbone of the reformer machine and are essentially what keep it functional. Tucked underneath the carriage, they provide the resistance needed to slide it along the frame of the machine. They are also typically adjustable to accommodate the different resistance levels users are able to manage. If you want to increase or decrease resistance, all you need to do is to either change the tension of the strings or vary their attachment points. 

Standing Platform

The front platform is typically used for exercises that require standing, such as side splits and pistol squats. Similar to the carriage, you need to ensure that the platform will be able to hold your weight as you’ll need to carefully balance yourself during more complicated movements. 


At the other end of the standing platform is the footbar, a stable service that provides support to your feet during exercises when you need to keep your feet engaged. Without the footbar, doing exercises, such as leg presses and hamstring curls, can be quite difficult as your feet can not be aligned properly.  


Ropes are another crucial aspect that help bring variety in your reformer workout. These are virtually straps that have handles or loops at the ends to help you expand your range of motion as the carriage moves for a total body workout. Our Foldable Eco Warrior (2022) for example, has easily adjustable ropes and double looped handles for a more rejuvenating exercise session. 

How To Use A Reformer Machine

Now that you’re familiar with the basic components of a reformer machine, it’s time for you to start with some beginner level exercises. Make sure to take it slow and focus on letting your movements and breath fall into their own natural rhythm. Here are some of the key routines you can start with to build up a sturdy foundation of reformer pilates:

Leg Circles

  1. Lie down on the moving carriage and place your arms next to your sides with your palms facing down.
  2. Adjust your feet in the straps and extend your legs.
  3. Pull your legs into a 90 degree pose.
  4. Lower your legs by pushing the straps down to a 45 degree angle.
  5. Open your legs wide and circle them back to your 90 degree pose.
  6. Don’t put too much weight in your palms and focus on engaging your core. 

Short Box Series

  1. Place the long box horizontally across the carriage.
  2. Start by securing your feet in the footbar and round your shoulders forward. 
  3. Next, reach backwards using a long pole to stretch out your entire upper body.
  4. Lean forward with your arms and pole still extended and gently move from side to side. 
  5. For more of a challenge, you can try leaning back and twisting deeper into each side.

The Frog

  1. With a neutral spine, start by placing your feet in the short straps with the head rest up.
  2. Rotate your legs outwards and keep your inner thighs engaged.  
  3. Lift your hips and press into the straps when your knees bend.
  4. Reach forward, bend, and straighten your knees. Repeat.

A Word From The Core Collab

Using a reformer machine for the first time is an exciting yet intimidating prospect. If you’re struggling with pilates, keep in mind that we all start as beginners. With practice and passion, you’re sure to shine through your workouts. And we here at The Core Collab are honoured to have you along with us for this journey. If you require any assistance or are in need of any reformer accessories or equipment, our doors are open for you. 


  • Can you use a pilates reformer at home?

Yes, you can. If you’re a beginner, you might want to start with an entry-level machine or even a used one. 

  • Are home pilates reformers worth it?

It depends on what your specific training requirements are. If you’re focusing on strengthening and toning your muscles and you have the ability to invest in one, we definitely recommend you to give it a shot.

  • How many times a week should you do reformer pilates?

Generally, it is recommended to go 3-4 times a week. However, 1-2 times can also be sufficient, although progress might be slow. Make sure that you’re getting enough rest days as well.