Is Reformer Pilates Good for Weight Loss?

A young woman using a Pilates reformer to lose weight


Key Takeaways

  • Reformer Pilates is a low-impact exercise that uses a specific machine to offer a more intense workout than mat-based Pilates
  • Pilates can help you get a slimmer waist by increasing lean muscle mass and burning more calories
  • Use Reformer Pilates to prioritise core strength, flexibility and injury prevention


If you’re trying to lose weight, then it helps to know which activities are going to help you reach your goals.

With several exercises out there, we don't blame you for feeling confused about which activities are going to help you shed those kilos.

Reformer Pilates is a great all-around exercise which can help improve your health and fitness quickly and efficiently.

Reformer Pilates can help get a slimmer waist, add lean muscle mass, improve flexibility and transform your body.

What is Reformer Pilates?

Reformer Pilates is a low-impact exercise that utilises specially designed equipment — the Reformer — to target specific muscle groups for strength and tone.

The Reformer is a bed frame-like piece of equipment with adjustable settings to customise the workout for different body sizes and skill levels.

It has a system of ropes and pulleys and a slidable carriage so you can exercise in a variety of positions and involve variations such as standing, sitting, lying down, pulling straps and pushing the foot bar.

You can practise Reformer Pilates either at a class or at home if you have a Pilates reformer machine like the Align-Pilates C2-Pro RC Aluminium Reformer pictured below:

A young woman working out using the Align-Pilates C2-Pro Aluminium Pilates Reformer

What’s the difference between mat Pilates and Reformer Pilates?

Mat-based Pilates is the most widely known form of this exercise discipline and is often compared to yoga.

While mat-based Pilates focuses on core strength and control, Reformer Pilates works the whole body to improve flexibility, balance and posture.

Reformer Pilates is a more intense and challenging form of mat-based Pilates, as it uses equipment to add weights and resistance to the routine.

When you exercise with mat Pilates, you are restricted to movements you can perform low to the ground. The difference with Reformer Pilates is that you can use a wider range of body positions.

In short, it provides a dynamic workout that can result in improved strength and body tone after just a few classes.

What are the benefits of Reformer Pilates?

Reformer Pilates exercises can help improve posture, strength, muscle tone, and flexibility, which in turn leads to a wide range of other health benefits.

Let’s discuss a couple of advantages.

1. Prevents injury

Reformer Pilates can help reduce the risk of falls and injuries by improving stability, flexibility, and strength.

It's also a low-impact activity that puts minimal strain on the joints.

These factors make it an ideal exercise for people of all ages and abilities, including older persons.

A review of studies (1) that looked at the effect of Pilates on older adults found that it improved balance, muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, gait and overall physical function, and also that fear of falling was reduced.

2. Builds strength and tones your body

Reformer Pilates helps to strengthen and tone the body by using resistance from the Reformer and body weight.

We know it’s effective thanks to some recent studies. One piece of research (2) investigated the effects of a Pilates training programme, which included Reformer Pilates, on various physical attributes including trunk and shoulder strength.

It followed a group of adolescent basketball players over an eight-week period. By the end, the study found that the players had significantly enhanced strength in these areas.

Reformer Pilates can also improve overall flexibility, coordination and balance. This means that in turn, you can benefit from improved posture and easier movement.

Pilates vs weight training for a slimmer waist

A young woman wanting a slimmer waist by using a pilates reformer

We get asked this question a lot.

Both Pilates and weight training can contribute to a slimmer waist, but they do so in different ways.

Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that emphasises core strength and flexibility. It can effectively tone the muscles around the waist, giving the appearance of a slimmer waistline, as well as improve posture, which can also help create a visually slimmer silhouette.

Weight training, on the other hand, is more focused on building muscle and burning fat. By incorporating weight training exercises that target the entire body, including the core, you can enhance your overall metabolic rate, which aids in fat burning.

This, in turn, can lead to a reduction in waist size.

For optimal results, it's generally recommended to include both types of training in a balanced fitness routine, alongside a healthy diet.

Personal Trainer Tip: losing weight involves a combination of exercise and a healthy diet. You can work out as much as you like, but if your diet is poor, you will not see results.

Pilates vs weight training for building strength

You may be wondering which is best — Reformer Pilates or weight training — when it comes to building strength.

Pilates and weight training are both effective methods of strength-building, depending on the user's goals.

Weight training is an effective way to increase muscle mass and lift heavy weights. However, Pilates is excellent for building core strength and preventing injuries.

And strength can mean different things. So, someone may be able to lift large weights but unable to do multiple reps of other exercises. Meanwhile, someone who practises Reformer Pilates may not be able to lift those heavy weights but can perform and hold isometric moves with ease.

So, if you’re not interested in building bulk but want to improve your overall strength and fitness, then Reformer Pilates could be the workout for you!

Can Reformer Pilates help you lose weight?

A group of people in a Reformer Pilates exercise class

Reformer Pilates is an effective exercise to help with weight loss, different from traditional aerobic exercises like running, walking and swimming.

That's because Reformer Pilates exercises can help give you lean muscles that burn more calories while working out.

So, Reformer Pilates is an effective exercise for weight loss as it strengthens the body and enables more intense workouts.

In fact, one study (3) that investigated a number of benefits of Pilates, compared to aerobic training, for overweight or obese people, found that practising Pilates resulted in an increase in lean mass and a reduction in fat mass.

What’s more, practising any type of Pilates can encourage participants to develop health-promoting behaviours and can trigger a “virtuous cycle”. This means leading a healthier lifestyle overall which in turn equals more success when it comes to weight loss.

This was one of the findings of a study (4) that looked at the impact of Pilates and yoga on health-promoting behaviour over an eight-week period. It described practising yoga and Pilates as an effective strategy that helped people change unhealthy behaviour and indirectly resulted in weight loss.

Choose a slimmer, stronger body with a Reformer Pilates workout

Without a doubt, Reformer Pilates offers a great way to exercise, with a special emphasis on improving strength, balance and posture.

It’s good to know that when practised in combination with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices, it can also help you lose weight.

And how you enjoy this exercise is up to you. You can check out reformer Pilates classes local to you or even invest in your own Pilates reformer to use at home.

Either way, when you choose Reformer Pilates, you’re choosing a slimmer, stronger and more toned body as well as improving your overall fitness…so what’s not to love?

If you'd like to know more about our pilates reformers, why not reach out to our team of fitness equipment experts?

You can email, phone 1300 13 42 13, live chat in your own time, or visit one of our many stores in Perth, Mandurah and Bunbury.


1. Meikis, L., Wicker, P., & Donath, L. (2021). Effects of Pilates training on physiological and psychological health parameters in healthy older adults and in older adults with clinical conditions over 55 Years: A meta-analytical review. Frontiers in Neurology, 12. Published online 2021 Oct 25. DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2021.724218

2. Ho Park, J., Kim, H., Choi, D., Park, S., & Hwang, Y. (2020). Effects of 8-week Pilates training program on hamstring/quadriceps ratio and trunk strength in adolescent baseball players: A pilot case study. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 16(1), 88–95. Published online 2020 Feb 26. DOI: 10.12965/jer.1938732.366

3. Rayes, A., de Lira, C., Viana, R., Benedito-Silva, A., Vancini, R., Mascarin, N., & Andrade, M. (2019). The effects of Pilates vs. aerobic training on cardiorespiratory fitness, isokinetic muscular strength, body composition, and functional tasks outcomes for individuals who are overweight/obese: A clinical trial. PeerJ, 7. Published online 2019 Feb 28. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.6022

4. Lim, E., & Hyun, E. (2021). The impacts of Pilates and yoga on health-promoting behaviors and subjective health status. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(7). Published online 2021 Apr 6. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18073802

Published on 05/07/2023

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