Is a Pilates Cadillac Reformer Combo Right for Me?

Whether you’re a studio owner hoping to maximize your square footage or a Pilates enthusiast looking to get the most bang for your buck when outfitting a home studio, you may be eyeing a combination Reformer-Tower or Reformer-Cadillac apparatus.

“A combination offers the ultimate in flexibility, but there are trade-offs,” says Gia Calhoun, vice president at Pilates Anytime. Read on to discover if this versatile (and pricey) apparatus is for you.

First, a word about the difference between a Reformer-Cadillac unit and a Reformer-Tower, sometimes referred to as a “Full Cadillac Reformer” and “Half Cadillac Reformer, respectively. “Tower” refers to a single U-shaped set of steel posts that support the various attachments used in a Tower class: Leg Springs, Arm Springs, and a Roll-back bar. With a traditional Cadillac, or the Full Cadillac combination unit, an additional set of posts at the other end accommodates a Push Through bar and a Trapeze attachment (don’t worry, you won’t be flying through the air).

What’s Great About a Combination Unit

Who doesn’t love a Reformer? For many people, the words Pilates and Reformer are interchangeable. The Reformer gives you access to a studio-style workout with exercises that can be done lying down, seated (sometimes on an optional Box attachment), or standing. The resistance comes from four to five springs beneath the carriage (an upholstered moving platform), making it very versatile. Add a Jump Board attachment and you’ve got your cardio, too.

The Cadillac and Tower are less well known, even within the Pilates community. As the name 'Cadillac' implies, it offers a deluxe experience with all the bells and whistles that Joseph Pilates invented. It is just the right size and offers a soft, supportive space to perform Pilates Mat work. It’s also hard to beat the Cadillac and Tower when you want to stretch. A Roll-back or Push-Through sequence is fantastic for getting the kinks out of tight shoulders, necks, and backs.

Because the Cadillac and Tower are stable platforms, the learning curve is less steep. You can get used to working with the Pilates system of resistance springs, and once you develop more body awareness and become familiar with the springs, you can add the element of balance required by Reformer.

Drawbacks of a Combination Unit

  • It can be unwieldy. Ask yourself, will I really use it? Whether you choose a Tower-Reformer unit or a Cadillac-Reformer unit, it’s a workout removing the two pieces that form the Mat surface so you can access the Reformer below. In a group class, the students do it for themselves, so this is less of an issue for studios. If it’s just you who’ll be doing the heavy lifting, well, let’s just say it’s a bonus core exercise (Tip: bend the knees!).
  • It can take over a room. You’ll need to have a place to store the Mat components when they are not in use. While they are flat, it can be challenging to find a good spot if you are working out in a room without a lot of empty wall space to lean them against, such as a bedroom.
  • They are heavy. Reformers and Combination units have a similar footprint, but the combination units are heavier due to the extra weight of the posts and attachments. That means they are more expensive to ship than a stand-alone Reformer, and if you move, they are harder to dismantle and transport.
  • They are pricey. Combination units run about twice as much as the Reformer alone, depending upon the options.
  • They are harder to sell in the event of buyer’s remorse. A Reformer is more familiar thanks to group Reformer classes, which act as a gateway drug for people interested in buying a home Reformer. The pool of true Pilates nerds wanting their own Cadillac/Tower is much smaller.

Whichever option you choose, you can find inspiration and fresh workouts at Pilates Anytime.

Do you have any advice on choosing between a Reformer and a Combination unit? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Alison Manheim

Alison is a writer and Pilates instructor based in Santa Monica, California. Her Pilates practice has been a springboard to a brand new career as a fitness model and commercial actor at age 50+.


Reformer and tower is a good choice for beginners like me as the tower provides exercises which assist me to do  teasers and roll ups
There are also many other exercises which helped me a lot

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