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Intro to the Pilates Chair

The Pilates Chair is a "Wunda" Chair

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Updated September 18, 2012

Far from being a newcomer on the block, the Pilates chair, also called the wunda chair and the low chair, has always been a part of any fully equipped Pilates studio. Lately, the chairs have been getting a new look, moving into the mainstream and losing their status as one of the "mysterious" Pilates machines.

The Chair as Traditional Pilates Equipment

The Wunda Chair
Peak Pilates

Like the reformer, the Pilates chair is another of Joseph Pilates' resistance exercise machines. The Pilates chair is basically a box with one side that can be pressed down against the resistance of springs, like a large pedal. Sometimes the pedal portion is divided into two parts that can be worked independently.

Traditionally, the Pilates chairs are made of wood, with a padded top and pedal. The original chairs that Joseph Pilates designed actually did double-duty as furniture, converting into sitting chairs.

The Pilates Chair is Evolving

The Pilates Chair
Peak Pilates
Over the past few years, some of the large Pilates equipment manufacturers like Peak Pilates, Balanced Body, and Stott Pilates have introduced light, streamlined versions of the chair. These new chairs, with sporty names like the MVe and the EXO chair, are aimed at taking the chair out of the "special equipment at the studio" category and into mainstream use. They are marketed to studios and gyms, and as easy to move and store pieces of home exercise equipment.

The Malibu Pilates chair, has also been a big hit in the home equipment market. This chair is not as sturdy as the others, but it has been getting good reviews and it is less expensive.

Read a Review of the MVe Pilates Chair
Updates on the Malibu Pilates Chair (see comments)

Exercises on the Pilates Chair

Pilates Chair Exercise
STOTT PILATES photography © Merrithew Corporation

Though the basic design is simple, there are a myriad of exercises that can be performed on the Pilates chair. It is excellent for strengthening the core muscles, of course, and also the arms and legs. Exercises are done lying, sitting, and standing on the chair, as well as from positions to the sides of the chair. One can expect a lot of stability and flexibility work on the chair. It is truly a testament to the ingenuity of the Pilates method to see how many exercises can be done on the Pilates chair.

In the images to the left and below, Stott Pilates has provided examples of the variety of exercises that can be done on their stability (wunda) chair.

Pilates Chair Workouts

Exericise on Pilates Chair
STOTT PILATES photography © Merrithew Corporation

One assumes that the wunda chair got its name because it works wonders. My experience is that it does. While the exercise images here are of advanced moves, the chair is often used for simple strength and balance exercises, and beginner classes are available..

A class is always the best place to start. But once you get a working understanding of the basic Pilates movement principles, the chair could be a great addition to your home exercise routine. At a cost of $700 to over 1,000, they aren't cheap, but they are useful. Read Where to Buy Pilates Equipment and see the links below for resources for buying some of the new or classic models of the Pilates chair. Many of the manufacturers are offering DVDs for home training as well.

Related Video
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