Reformer Spring Conversion: Classical to Contemporary

Classical or Contemporary Pilates Equipment?

Pilates equipment which adheres to Joseph Pilates’ original specifications for size, materials and dimensions, is called “Classical”. Two manufacturers are Pilates Designs by Basil, and GRATZ™ PILATES. Over time, other manufacturers have changed the size, dimensions and materials originally specified, and these we call “Contemporary”. Balanced Body is one of the leaders worldwide in Contemporary Pilates equipment manufacture.

Which is best?

As you may imagine, the Classical equipment is better adapted to the Classical work, just as was intended by Mr. Pilates. Contemporary schools today have added, removed, modified and changed exercises. Contemporary equipment is suited best to this kind of work.

A Classical Pilates teacher will understand the importance of working on Classical equipment, and how it changes the body. On the Reformer the springs are heavy and all weigh the same, the wheels are hard rubber and the carriage provides friction for them so that the springs don’t pull you in but instead you pull the carriage in! Therefore you work harder and deeper into the powerhouse. The leather straps are set at a specific angle to the back of the reformer, providing just the right amount of challenge (or assistance depending on the exercise). Handles are metal, fit in your hand, and spin around seamlessly when you move your arms and hands. The way the reformer is structured makes transitioning from one exercise to the next an exercise in itself.

On the other hand, when you try to perform Contemporary Pilates exercises on a Classical reformer however, you might find in some cases that you wish the footbar were larger, the frame longer, the springs lighter or the box bigger.

How to translate between the two

I am a firm believer in the power of the Classical work done on Classical equipment. However, I also understand the benefit or sometimes changing things as long as you have a clear goal in mind. Knowing how to work with both kinds of reformers simply gives me access to a wider range of tools. I don´t recommend you teach the Classical work on a Contemporary Reformer, because you will be missing out on a lot. Also, some of the exercise transitions are not possible on contemporary equipment.  But if you have no choice, these are the spring conversions you can use:

1 red spring (Balanced Body) = 1 Classical spring
1 blue spring (Balanced Body) = 0.5 Classical spring
1 yellow spring (Balanced Body) = 0.25 Classical spring

In my studio I have a Reformer/Tower, a Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Ped o Pull, Spine Correctors and Ladder Barrel all from Pilates Designs by Basil. I also have 2 Balanced Body Allegro Reformers. I´m happy to say I can enjoy the best of both worlds!

What about you?

What equipment do you work on and what is your preference? Let me know your thoughts!

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