Exploring Pilates Beyond Reformer & Mat - A Classical Pilates Gymnasium

More and more people around the globe turn to Pilates for a great re-energizing and strengthening workout. Benefits are long proven and long lived - from decluttering busy minds and untangling tight bodies, to acquiring ease of movement and aiding healthful longevity. Everyone from your nephew to your grandparents have heard of Pilates on the Reformer and Mat, but we doubt if they know about the many other apparatus.

We absolutely agree that Mat and Reformer are the bread and butter of Pilates. But did you know, there are also the meat and potatoes of Pilates, that you might not have heard of before?! These are not new gizmos and revolutionary quick fixes. In fact these are old tried and tested pieces that have been invented by the same guy Mr Pilates many decades ago. Read on to discover the Classical Pilates Gymnasium in its full glory & system.


Joseph Pilates invented a whole gym around his Method. The Pilates Studio Dublin is unique in that it is one of Dublin’s only fully equipped Authentic Pilates Gymnasiums.

Authentic Pilates in its full expansive glory is a fabulous system of movement. The equipment & exercises were designed to work not only separately but to mesh & interconnect together. Each piece supporting each other and the practitioner along the journey. This makes for a fabulous intricate richly flavored recipe & produces unique Pilates results. It doesn’t mean one can not do a good Classical workout using just the Mat or the Reformer only, but the other equipment helps you develop your body better and helps you understand the interconnections within the Method.

Below we highlight some of the maybe lesser known in Ireland, but as versatile and very effective original Pilates apparatus. You can also discover some of the fabulous Classical exercises as demonstrated below by our amazing teacher Patricia Doyle.

The Arm Chair

This unusual chair with springs is also called The Baby Chair.

It has a diagonal moving back for an added challenge and spinal articulation. The chair can also be used by keeping the back stationary.

It is particularly great in strengthening & stretching muscles of the upper powerhouse - the torso with its shoulder girdle, arms, back and the neck.

A great piece for everyone from beginners to advanced to help build awareness, strength and correct movement patterns.


The Pedi Pull


Also spelled Ped-o-pull. Wonderfully wobbly - the pole is purposefully not very stable so big control element is involved. Another archival version of Pedi Pull with adjustable height & attached bike seat exists.

You can challenge & improve your balance, work on posture; total body control & coordination. As Joseph Pilates intentionally progresses us within his Method from lying down to seated, then finally to standing - much like a baby in the process of developing the motor functions. Adding the Pedopull to your practice is a wonderful way to take your Pilates into real life - whilst moving in & out of upright positions.

Below Patricia is demonstrating some of the more advanced exercises balancing on her tip toes. Do not shy away from this piece of equipment as it is definitely accessible to all experienced practitioners with no limits of fitness level or ability.

The Wunda Chair


Mr Pilates was always building different versions of chairs. The anecdote goes that the Wunda chair was originally built to provide extra challenge for strong men and acrobats.

Wonder chair certainly lives up to its name, as you can flip it over & use it as an actual arm chair - see the last picture of Patricia reading Return To Life book on it. This is purposeful. Joseph Pilates famously encouraged his students to take their Pilates practice and philosophy outside of the studio into real life. A lot of of his inventions were built to be used & adapted for people homes.

The chair has a moving pedal of adjustable resistance. It is highly versatile - a whole sequenced workout can be done using just the chair or one can perform a few exercises of choice to round off the session nicely. You do not have to be an acrobat as the chair can be used by all, but some Pilates experience is advised for best results.

Working out on a Wunda chair is a total body challenge with some of the exercises having a big balance and coordination aspect to them. In a way it frees the body up taking away all the boxed in constrictions. It lets you stretch into infinity.

The High Chair / Electric Chair


As the saying goes, you as a practitioner - provide the electricity - making the chair move!

The electric chair has slightly different measurements to Wunda chair and a lesser adjustable pedal. Hard back & handles provide additional support and help build up strength around lower back, pelvis, hips and legs in particular. The chair also offers a total body workout with the upper body challenging exercises as pictured below.

It is a very versatile piece of equipment, which can be used both for offering support to newbies, for strengthening post rehabilitation, or for the extra challenge of more advanced practitioners.

The Foot Corrector

Does what it says on the tin. Helps work, enliven and strengthen muscles and joints of the whole foot, particularly the arch and ankle in conjunction with the knee and hip & especially the buttocks. You can move through a variety of exercises and foot positions on it to hit different angles and muscles.

This device is great for foot strengthening & for healthy feet to condition them further. For best results before using it the teacher usually prepares the student by doing a variety of foot exercises in other parts of the Pilates system - like 2 by 4 board, towel work, toe corrector - also pictured below, & many others.

Additional Pilates Apparatus

We can go on for a another few pages of listing all the fabulous large Pilates apparatus created by Joe, starting from the Cadillac, all the different barrels, mats & the Guillotine; concluding with smaller ancillary pieces like the Breatha-a-cizer and the Bean Bag. But that would be a whole other blog… or two!

You probably did not expect that Classical Pilates system is so expansive and complete. This is one of the reasons we at The Pilates Studio Dublin are so in love with ‘Contrology’, aka ‘Classical Pilates’, aka ‘The Authentic Pilates Method’ & its life changing body transformation opportunities.

You can learn Pilates as Joseph Pilates intended, by using all these & additional pieces of his or original Method, in a friendly and supportive space, with us!

Spine corrector by Pilates scandinavia & small barrel by gratz Pilates equipment

Spine corrector by Pilates scandinavia & small barrel by gratz Pilates equipment

Pilates Towers & PEdopull

Pilates Towers & PEdopull

The UNiversal Reformer by Gratz

The UNiversal Reformer by Gratz