Pilates machines look like torture devices! Why would I want to get on something like that?

Some Pilates equipment can look like some kind of medieval torture device, which is ironic because it makes you feel so good. The most commonly used pieces are the Reformer, the Cadillac and the Mat, but there are several other small pieces of equipment, too.

The Reformer is a rectangular frame with four legs and a cushioned mat, or carriage that slides back and forth on wheels with the resistance of springs and pulleys.

The Cadillac is a trapeze-like table that's 26 inches off the floor and has a canopy from which a trapeze, springs and pulleys hang. Because it's elevated, it's nice for older people if they have trouble getting down on the floor.

Finally, there's the mat — the ideal apparatus for Pilates because there's nothing helping you. It's only you, your body weight and your alignment making the exercises fluid, controlled and precise. Get advice here on whether you should do Pilates on a mat vs. on a Pilates machine.