How the Pilates Wunda Chair Works

The Pilates chair, also called the wunda chair or low chair, is far from being a newcomer on the block. It has always been a part of any fully equipped Pilates studio and was created by Joseph Pilates himself. 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

Pilates teacher helping student use a Wunda chair

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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, Pilates chairs were 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.

Some large Pilates equipment manufacturers sell light, streamlined versions of the chair. These 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.

Chair Exercises and Workouts

One assumes that the wunda chair got its name because it works wonders. The chair is often used for simple strength and balance exercises, and beginner classes are available.

Though the basic design is simple, there are myriad 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. You 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.

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.

By Marguerite Ogle MS, RYT
Marguerite Ogle is a freelance writer and experienced natural wellness and life coach, who has been teaching Pilates for more than 35 years.