You might have noticed that there is a big difference in the widths, heights, and depths of different brands and models of chairs, which lends itself to confusion when learning the Pilates chair repertoire and difficulty when deciding which chair to purchase. The great news is, you can choose your preference based on the outcome you’re looking for!
The dimensions of the chair affect the physics of movement. Some chairs, such as Stott’s and Balanced Body’s combo chairs, are noticeably higher from the ground and narrower in the seat. The benefit of this is that they are easier for people who are restricted in low sitting mobility to utilize the chair for exercises such as double leg pump/seated footwork. With this additional height, you’ll also notice that they align with the height of most Cadillacs, which can provide extra support with exercises such as swan or lateral flexion.
Have you noticed the distance between the pedal and the seat of the chair?
This is very important to consider when you’re doing exercises such as reverse swan and teaser when you’re seated on the chair and reaching back to the pedal. Having a shorter distance means that the spring tension will support you sooner in the exercise. On the flip side, having a greater distance between the pedal and the chair when doing swan will place less demand on the degree of your spine extension.
Lower chairs can be helpful when doing exercises such as forward lunge/step up. You have less distance to travel vertically if your chair is lower to the ground. A lower chair also means less distance between your client and the ground, which can lend itself towards increased comfort and stability. Having deeper chairs can be helpful in exercises such as reverse swan and teaser because you’ll have more surface area to support your back.
In a nutshell, there are a few important variables to consider when using the chair and these variables will impact the experience of an exercise for us and for our clients and patients. In my dream studio, I would have one chair of every brand and model, although I recognize this would make group classes impossible! Try a variety of exercises on each chair before deciding on the make and model of chair that would best serve you and your client/patient population.
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