Best New Equipment The Best New (and timeless) Equipment for 2020

Made of highly durable foam to complement the natural curve of the spine, the Oov™ activates core stabilizing muscles while gently extending the spine to stimulate healthy disc lubrication. From stretching to core strengthening to rehabilitation exercises, the Oov offers significant benefits for spinal health.

PRICE: $179 where to Buy:

Pro’s rEvIew: “The Oov naturally cues you!” —Nichole Anderson, Polestar® Educator

EvolutIonary EngIneerIng: BASI SYSTEMS In a global initiative that supports its education programs, BASI has introduced a new line of equipment called BASI Systems that includes a Reformer, Reformer with Tower, Reformer Combo, Trapeze Table, Arm Chair, Arm Chair Barrel Set, Ladder Barrel, Spine Corrector, Wunda Chair, Wall Tower, Wall Unit and Ped a Pul, plus a variety of accessories and add-ons. BASI Systems equipment features exceptional engineering, the highest-quality materials, an attention to design and state-of-the-art features for optimum interaction between the exerciser and the equipment. Cutting-edge customization options allow it to accommodate varying needs and every level of Pilates enthusiast and professional. (Editor’s note: Check out “My Pilates Journal” on page 74 for more details on this groundbreaking new line of apparatus.)

Best New Equipment The Best New (and timeless) Equipment for 2020 Photo Gallery

PRICES: Available upon request Where to Buy: North American sales: Brandon Gamble (; international sales: Mehmet Küçükonat ( Pro’s rEvIEw: “The BASI Systems equipment is beautifully manufactured with many features that a movement-therapy specialist such as myself needs to work with a variety of clients. The ability to alter the direction, angle and level of resistance is brilliant. I have finally found the perfect equipment: quiet, fluid, aesthetically pleasing and extremely functional.” —Sondra Karman, Body Balancing Pilates.


Balanced Body® is introducing a re-engineered, freestanding version of the Guillotine Tower, one of the original pieces of equipment in Joseph Pilates’ studio. While traditional versions of this apparatus required that it be bolted to both the floor and the ceiling, Balanced Body offers two models: one with a freestanding base (made of stratified wood) that requires no installation, or a version without a base that needs to be bolted to the floor but not the ceiling). It is a remarkable tool for improving pelvic-lumbar stabilization, hip and leg alignment and articulation, deep core strength and upper-hemisphere organization.

PRICE: $3,595 without base (bolts for floor mounting not included); $4,250 with base wHErE to Buy:

Pro’s rEvIEw: “Brilliant! You just can’t do many of the moves on a Cadillac—there’s not enough room!” —Alan Herdman, Alan Herdman Pilates, London.


The Fitness Circle® Flex from MERRITHEW™ is a lightweight, portable prop that tones the upper and lower body. Featuring soft-grip foam handles, it provides gentle resistance that makes it perfect for beginners. Available in blue and orange.

PrICE: $19.99

WHERE to Buy:

Pro’s RevIew: “The Fitness Circle Flex is a great option when I want a circle that provides a more gentle resistance level. My favorite exercise with the Fitness Circle Flex is the forward reach, since the circle is lighter, and adds to the challenge of balance and opposition in the whole body.” —Laureen DuBeau, Merrithew Master Instructor Trainer and owner of Uxbridge Pilates in Toronto.


These new additions to the Peak Pilates® line of equipment were designed with the input of Peak’s Master Instructor team. The Afina™ 4 is Peak’s most classical version of the Reformer. It comes with traditional leather straps, handles and strap swivels, and four springs all with the same tension for optimum flow. Maintenance- free oil-infused bronze bushings give the wheels more drag. The Afina™ 5 Reformer comes with the ropes and risers, as well as Peak’s five-spring kit with three different tensions (one heavy, two medium and two light), as well as its ultra-glide tracking system with ball-bearing wheels. The Afina™ Tower can be ordered as an upgrade to both. It’s made from a proprietary aluminum extrusion and soft contour frame to allow simultaneous use on both the front and back sides. It was designed to provide maximum versatility and offers expanded exercise options that incorporates much of the traditional Cadillac repertoire.

PrIces: The Afina 4 Reformer, $4,495; the Afina 5 Reformer, $4,095. Afina Tower, from $1995. All three come in amber bamboo and oak. Custom orders are available. wHErE to Buy:

Pro’s RevIew: “The new Afina Reformer and Tower is sleek and smooth, both in looks and in performance. Its carriage ride is silent, and the resistant ride return challenges our students in ways they hadn’t experienced before. We love that the variability and adjustability of the Tower spring mounts allow us to change spring heights quickly according to the exercise and the individual needs of our clients.” —Connie Borho, Peak Pilates Level IV Master Instructor, Lolita San Miguel Master Teacher and director of Balance Pilates and Yoga Centers in Bradenton, FL.


MultItaskIng wrIst support: WAGS FUSION WAGS Fusion fitness gloves takes you from the weight room to the Reformer, providing wrist support and helping to alleviate wrist pain. Made of soft goatskin leather and a diamond Lycra fabric, they combine features of two other WAG gloves: the ergonomic contoured gel pad of the Flex style, plus the elastic wrist wrap of the Ultra glove.

PrICE: $59.95 wHErE to Buy: PractItIoner’s RevIew: “I am so pleased with my WAGs. I am an avid Pilates and yoga participant, and my painful wrists interfered with my form. After using WAGs for two weeks, I’m happy to say that my [practice] is free of wrist pain again.” —Ann E., WAGs customer.


The soft, cushioned Fitness Circle® Toning Rings can be used individually or together to add variety, help maintain proper alignment and increase challenge to your workout. Made of NBR-covered springs, they are weighted, and can be used on the mat or Reformer to help sculpt and shape the arms, shoulders, upper back and lower body.

Prlce: $36.99 for the pair

Where to Buy:

Pro’s RevIew: “These are great for working both the upper and lower body at the same time. I can perform movements using one ring at both ends of the body. The rings help maintain proper alignment, recruit upper- and lower-body stabilizers, and provide just a little resistance.” —Laureen Dubeau.



Exclusive to OPTP, the ActivMotion Bar® has internal ball bearings that shift during movement, producing an instability that activates the core and creates a more effective, challenging workout. Choose a variety of weights from four to 18 pounds.

PRICE: $99.99 for 4-pound bar to $159.99 for 18-pound bar where to Buy:

Pro’s rEvIEw: “Activities of everyday life involve both inertia and momentum—often we must stop or change direction suddenly or even propel ourselves quickly to avoid some obstacle. The ActivMotion Bar allows Pilates instructors to introduce momentum into clients’ workout regimens safely—while also targeting core musculature—so that the body can be better prepared for life’s natural forces.” —Katherine and Kimberly Corp, owners of Pilates on Fifth in NYC

Remarkable rotatIon: PHI PILATES ROTO DISC KIT

This kit, which includes two rotating discs, and instructions and photographs for a variety of exercises, is a must for any studio or home gym. The moves, which were developed by PHI® Pilates founder and physical therapist Dr. Christine Romani-Ruby, are designed to help increase strength and mobility in the hips and shoulders, and alleviate back and knee pain.

PRICE: $22 for a set of two (includes exercise guide) where to Buy: pro’s rEViEW: “An absolutely perfect tool to increase proper hip range of motion without accessory muscle movement. These discs have really helped expand my Pilates exercise and rehabilitation repertoire.

I love that you can use

these discs bilaterally or unilaterally, and for any ability or age. They help with kinesthetic awareness, balance and proprioceptive skills, and proper muscle facilitation throughout the entire body.” —Lindsey Hensler Chropka, PHI Pilates Studio instructor, PMA®-CPT


A smaller version of the best-selling Merrithew Mini Stabiity Ball™, this 7.5-inch foam textured ball performs double duty as a full-body workout prop and a self¬massage tool. The foam—a planet-friendly version of the material used in memory foam mattresses—makes it ideal for targeted therapy work and rehydrating tissue in myofascial rolling. Tone and target hard- to-reach areas by using the ball to create instability, thereby activating your deepest stabilizing muscles.

PRICE: $24.99

Where to Buy:

Pro’s RevIew: “I use the Mini Stability Ball™ for both my warm-up and cool-down exercises. It’s great for rolling out limbs to increase circulation before your workout. Post¬workout, I use it to release pressure points. The ball forms to your body, making it ideal to use at the base of the lower back during crunches to create a level of instability.” —David Taylor, certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor at Studio Power 3 in Toronto

Compact ComFort: OPTP 18” PRO¬ROLLER SOFT This soft foam roller offers gentle massage for sore quads, hamstrings, calves and more, during Pilates, stretching and exercise routines. The compact 18- x-6-inch size makes it easy to carry. Thanks to its cross-linked, closed-cell construction, the PRO-ROLLER™ is durable while still offering comfortable compression.

PRICE: $22.50 wherre to Buy:

Pro’s RevIew: “This is a gateway roller for older, less hydrated people. I also use it to warm up prior to doing Pilates equipment work if a client is really tight and sore. It’s a wonderful tool that most people want to have at home.” —Sue Gann, Stott Pilates-, PhysicalMind- and Balanced Body-certified Pilates instructor at UNC Rex Healthcare Wakefield Wellness Center in Raleigh, NC

New-Gener atIon roller: PARASETTER

Created by Marika Molnar, director of physical therapy services for the New York City Ballet, the Parasetter® features attached dual rollers with a center channel. It allows for more freedom of movement and comfort than traditional rollers, while protecting the spinous processes of the vertebral column. It comes with a removable multi-use head support and rib wrap attachments. The breathing protocol also resets the parasympathetic nervous system to help lower blood pressure and cortisol levels.

PrICE: $110

Where to Buy: Pro’s RevIew: “Parasetter is an independent, functional and restorative way to re-educate the central core patterns by proprioceptive pressure feedback felt through the erector spinaes. Breathing and feeling the rib expansion on the inhale facilitates feedback from the rollers to naturally balance and position the head, neck and spine. Stability training results from reciprocal patterns of opposite arm and leg patterns varying type, speed and rhythm.” —Tina Sferra, MSPT, physical therapist and Pilates teacher and the owner of Elite Performance in Bedford Hills, NY CLASSICAL FAvORITES For many Pilates pros, there’s no reason to improve on the perfection of equipment from Gratz™, the original manufacturer of Joseph Pilates’ apparatus. Here, Pilates teacher Chris Robinson, owner and head trainer of S6 Fitness, in San Diego, CA, talks about his favorite apparatus and prop.


“With the The Gratz Guillotine Tower, you can do the Arm Springs, Leg Springs and Pull-Up as on the Cadillac. The true value is the bar for doing the Tower and Monkey exercises; unlike the Cadillac, the bar is unstable, which adds an extra challenge to stabilize your hips during these exercises. A must for every studio” ($3,220;


“The Gratz Neck Stretcher is a small device that I greatly value. I use it for all of my combat and contact sports athletes, but also my businessperson clientele who sit in front of a computer most of the day. Its purpose is to strengthen and elongate the muscles that support the neck ($125;”


Erika Quest, owner of Studio Q Pilates Conditioning in Laguna Beach, CA, is a member of the Balanced Body Faculty, a BASI graduate, public speaker and freelance writer. Her workouts, workshops and articles are available at Pilates on Tour, Pilates Anytime, IDEA Health & Fitness Association and other premier fitness/wellness avenues.

Come January 1, there’s an unwritten rule that it’s time to wipe the slate clean from the past year and to implement healthier choices into your life. We’ve scoured the scientific research to find the most beneficial, most actionable and easiest-to-accomplish tips for staving off stress, getting more fit, managing your weight and boosting your overall well-being in the year ahead.


Surprisingly, our immune system is controlled by the bacteria in our gut, according to research published in the journal Immunity this past October. And what we eat affects the balance of good and bad bacteria. “Good gut health is the foundation of wellness,” says Tasneem Bhatia, MD, an Atlanta-based physician specializing in integrative medicine and the author of The 21-Day Belly Fix. “Poor digestive health has to do with a lack of a diverse range of bacteria in food. If you don’t have the right balance of bacteria, it can lead to intestine indigestion, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating.”

How to make It Happen: Avoid processed foods—a recent study from King’s College London found that a diet of fast and junk food decreased the number of stomach flora by more than a third. Instead, include things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and kombucha in your daily diet, which all contain probiotics to promote good bacteria. “This also helps with the regulation of insulin and blood sugar levels,” says Dr. Bhatia. Also increase your consumption of “prebiotic” foods like bananas, chicory and dandelion greens, which support the growth of good bacteria, suggests Dr. Bhatia. Other good sources include whole grains, fruits and vegetables.


The sun isn’t the only environmental factor you should take into consideration before heading outside. Pollution can also cause wrinkles and pigment spots, according to research from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany. “In 2014, Olay skin care presented a study to the annual conference of the Chinese dermatologist association that showed pollution had significantly detrimental effects on the skin,” says Dr. Paul Lorenc, MD, FACS, a plastic surgeon and the founder of the Lorenc SkinFit program in New York. “The most interesting finding in their study was that living in a highly polluted area ages people 10 percent faster than [when] people live in less polluted areas.”

How to make It Happen: While you can’t just up and move, there are other ways you can protect your skin from pollution damage. “To protect your skin from air pollution, it’s important to wash your face daily with a mild cleanser,” says Lance Brown, MD, dermatologist in New York City. “You should also use a toner and daily moisturizer, ideally with sun protection.”


Fat—which was public enemy number one in the ’90s and oughts—is back in style. “There is a swing back to full-fat foods, which seem to manage satiety better, help prevent those blood sugar and insulin spikes which trigger inflammation, and balance the hormonal axis,” says Dr. Bhatia. Plus, low-fat foods generally make up for their lack of taste with an increased sugar content. A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that people who eat full¬fat dairy aren’t more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than people who opt for low-fat dairy.

How to make It Happen: Instead of fat-free items, buy full-fat, whole foods, which will keep you fuller longer. “It has been shown that eating full fat does ultimately result in lower calorie consumption,” says Dr. Bhatia. “You just have to eat less [of those foods] to not have the caloric or cardiovascular implications of full fat.”



They seem like the perfect way to have your cake (or cookies or crackers) and eat it, too, but it turns out those 100-calorie treats are not actually great for your waistline. “Hundred-calorie packs are an eye cheat and a thigh defeat,” says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, the owner of Active Eating Advice and the former sports dietician for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Penguins. “The packet is never full, you won’t be satisfied, and these items are primarily carbs with added sugar so they have minimal staying power.”

How to make It Happeen: Skip packs with restricted calorie counts—you’re likely to end up eating multiple packs, thereby defeating the purpose.


Instead, choose a healthier snack—like a piece of fruit or a square or two of dark chocolate. We’re loving the “nice cream” trend, using frozen bananas as a base to frozen treats.


In the past, there have been both pushes toward minimalist shoes, followed by a trend toward super- supportive kicks. But now researchers are finding that the most important thing is finding shoes that fit your individual feet, instead of forcing your footsies to conform to the latest trend. Brooks Running, a leading shoe manufacturer, recently came up with new technology called Stride Signature to provide customers with a personalized fit. “Every person is unique, down to the shapes of their bones and joints,” says Carson Caprara, senior manager of global product line management at Brooks Running. “The result of all of these differences is a movement pattern that is highly individual and preferred by the body. We call this the preferred motion path. We are focused on building footwear that harmonizes with this pattern for each runner and therefore, works with the body rather than against it.”

HOW to MAKE It HAPPEN: When purchasing shoes, go to a specialty shoe store where a professional can examine your stride and let you know what type of movement patterns you’re making. Stick to purchasing shoes that work best with your body. For pronators, that might mean a shoe with more support on the inside edges to keep the feet from collapsing inward; people with high arches might need extra cushioning and maybe to even go up a size.


“When your muscles are inactive and your joints are in the same position over and over again, the arteries within those inert muscles don’t expand with movement,” explains Katy Bowman, MS, a biomechanist and the author of Move Your DNA. “Breaking up [periods of] stillness changes the way blood flows through your arteries.”

How to mAkE It HAPPEn: Bowman suggest using a Fitbit to track your steps and let you know when you need to get up and move. Another option: Downloading an app that helps track sitting time. “Get the Time Out app, which darkens your computer screen at times pre-set by you,” says Bowman. When the screen goes black, head outside for a walk and some fresh air or even do a mini mat workout. Other ideas: Set the alarm on your phone to remind yourself to get up and walk for five minutes every hour during the work day. Or instead of fast-forwarding during commercials when you’re watching TV at night, get up and move around the house.


Float pods (read: large sensory-deprivation pods filled with water in which you float for an hour or more) are the new frontier of stress relief. “Many have found this to aid in recovery as well as pain management,” explains Mike Valesio, owner of Cloud Aquatic Float Parlor in Waldwick, NJ. In fact, a number of military veterans with post-traumatic.


stress disorder have reported finding relief after just a few sessions in a float pod. “Having the ability to float weightlessly in skin-temperature water, free from outside sounds and light, allows a person to finally let go of all the moving pieces in the outside world because outside stimuli are reduced as much as possible,” he adds.

How to mAkE It HAPPEn: Google “float parlor” to find a location near you. (There are now more than 250 across the country.) A 90-minute session costs around $75.


Juice cleanses? Green smoothies? So last year! Undeniable evidence the trend is waning: The large juice chain Organic Avenue recently filed for bankruptcy. So what’s the big new eating trend? Food! (Crazy, huh?!) “Digestion occurs in the mouth, not just the gut,” says Bonci. “Engaging teeth in the act of eating is part of the act of engagement.” And while something like a smoothie can be a good way to get extra fruits and vegetables into your diet, you’re limiting the flavor options, causing your taste buds to crave more. “When someone drinks juice or a smoothie, it is typically just carbs, has only one texture—smooth—and one flavor profile,” says Bonci. “A meal gives the options of temperature, texture and taste variations.”

Even ardent fans found juicing wasn’t a long-term solution. “Juicing will never replace food, it will only supplement it,” says Kelly Boyer, founder and CEO of Paleta, a farm-to-table meal delivery service in Los Angeles, who has seen the popularity in her meal deliveries outperform juicing sales.

Make a plan to cook at home as many nights of the week as you can.

How to mAkE It HAPPEn: Make a plan to cook at home as many nights of the week as you can. “Being engaged in the process of cooking means you’ll know exactly what you’re eating, you have the option to season accordingly, and it is less expensive than ordering out,” says Bonci. Cooking your own meals can ensure you’re getting exactly the fuel you need for the day. “Part of the enjoyment of eating comes not only from the eating, but the preparation of the food,” she adds. “Cooking can put activity into the day, allows us to vicariously enjoy food and is part of a more satisfying eating experience.”

In order to get enough veggies and fruit into your meals, she suggests using freeze-dried fruits and veggies as a textural topper to salads. “Use fruit-ons instead of croutons,” suggests Bonci. “And we can buy freeze-dried carrots and beets that can be root- ons!” Hummus, black-bean dips and making a stir-fry with add-ins like pineapple, mango and citrus can help, too.

For healthy recipes to make, flip to page 72, or visit, and

If you have no time to cook, a meal delivery service can be a great option (they’re available across the country). If you can’t find a delivery meal option, you can always turn to a service like Blue Apron or Plated, which delivers the exact ingredients (to the teaspoon) you need to make healthy dishes; you just put them together.


Restaurants that list the calorie counts on their menu offer dishes with an average of 140 fewer calories per item compared to those that don’t post nutrition information, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers speculate that restaurants would rather make a healthier menu than list dishes with crazy-high calorie counts. Thankfully, this is helping customers make healthier choices. “A 2013 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine set out to evaluate whether purchase decisions varied at full-service restaurants depending on the presence of labeling,” says Amanda Foti, MS, RD, RDN, senior dietician for Selvera Personalized Weight Management. “They found that those eating at labeled establishments ordered 151 fewer calories, 224 miligrams less sodium, and 3.7 grams less saturated fat.”


How to mAkE It HAPPEn: Next time you’re in charge of picking up lunch or choosing a place to have dinner, select a restaurant that lists the calorie counts on the menu. You’re bound to be able to find healthier options. You can also look up the counts online ahead of time and decide what you’ll order so your decision isn’t swayed by aromas once you get to the restaurant. “Beyond calories, you want to make sure your meal contains lean protein, fiber and healthy fats to ensure a nutritious diet,” advises Foti.

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