The Pilates chair is a piece of exercise equipment used for specific pilates movements. While there are a few variations, the classic Pilates chair has a padded seat and a side bar, pedals, and resistance springs and is used for balance and strength exercises that maintain focus on developing the core. An example of a popular chair Pilates exercise is called the tendon stretch. To do this, place feet on pedals with hands on seat. Bend over chair with head down and body in shape of a candy cane. Draw up on your abdominals bringing the pedals off of the chair base. Tuck tailbone down, and use low abs and back to return to the floor. There are a variety chair exercises offered for beginners to advanced students.
Small but challenging…
On average, chairs stand just over two feet tall with a footprint of approximately only five square feet. Designed to stretch and strengthen muscle groups not easily reached by more traditional techniques and equipment, it consists of a seat and a foot bar where springs are attached. Members can sit, lie or stand on the chair or the floor and push the foot bar with their hands or feet.
There are over 28 different exercise categories on the chair focusing on core strength, leg strength, shoulder girdle stability, mobility and strength and functional movements such as standing, climbing, pushing and lifting.
The chair is considered to be the most challenging piece of Pilates equipment in terms of building strength in the legs and shoulders. Exercises on the chair are great for skiers, runners, tennis players, golfers and for clients looking to increase power in the upper body for throwing, lifting and racquet sports.
“In terms of an exercise the chair is more athletic than a Reformer. Whereas the latter deals more with flexibility and coordination, the chair is more physically challenging and will get your clients sweating,” says St. John.
In a 20’ x 20’ room a club could easily fit ten chairs with room to spare. Many chairs are now equipped with wheels which make portability and storage extremely easy. It is a great alternative for clubs who want to offer equipment-based Pilates but may not have the room for Reformers.
Benefits of chair pilates
Great for knee problems as the chair demands unique alignment opportunities.
It gives you variety to whatever your current workout and will challenge your balance, strength and stability.
It will improve your mat work as you explore different ways to connect with your body.
Focus – you have to concentrate on your movements helping you increase mind body awareness as the short spring can be of great force and easily throw you if you’re not in control.
It’s great fun too!