The Pilates Chair:
Little Footprint, Big Workout

By Ken Endelman
Founder & CEO, Balanced Body Inc.

Looking for a unique service to offer your members and differentiate yourself from other clubs? The Pilates Chair is a simple piece of equipment that combines elements of the popular mindbody exercise with overall strength conditioning.

Some experts think the Pilates Chair could be the “next big thing” in group exercise for health clubs on the cutting edge of fitness. Nora St. John, co-owner of Turning Point Studios in Walnut Creek, CA, has taught many chair classes and thinks it is an ideal fit for health and fitness clubs. “It is a perfect piece of equipment for a club. It doesn’t take up much space and it offers a serious workout for even your most fit members.”

Pilates instructor adjusting positioning of client while he is using a Pilates chair

Small but challenging…

On average, Pilates 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.

Woman laying on a Pilates chair lifting her knees while pushing the pedal down with her hands

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.

About the Author

Ken Endelman is Founder and CEO of Balanced Body Inc. Ken began his career as a designer and craftsman of fine custom furniture – a background apparent in every piece of hand-finished equipment the company makes. Since the early 1970s, Ken Endelman has updated Joseph Pilates’ equipment with state-of-the-art engineering, materials and technology, many of which have become industry standards. The company has been awarded twenty-four U.S. patents, with more pending. Balanced Body Inc. continues to actively promote Pilates to the fitness industry, the medical profession and the media.

As published in the June 2006 issue of Club Solutions magazine