I recently bought a used Peak MVe single pedal Pilates chair and here is my review. (If you're curious like me, MVe stands for Maximum Versatility Exercise.)
I've worked on Peak Pilates equipment before and had a great experience, so I was curious to "test drive" this modern-looking chair.
What I like about the Peak Pilates MVe Chair
The seat has a good size. I didn't have the feeling that I'm about to fall off a ledge if I set up half an inch too far to one side. The actual dimensions are 17" wide and 10.5 " deep. The seat height is 23.5 inches.
The Foot Pedal
The pedal is wider than the seat, which gives you more options and increases your range of motion for certain exercises. For example:
- Side Sit Straddle: someone with limited external rotation can position her foot further forward on the pedal making the exercise more doable
- Footwork Wide V-Position: You can actually work on lengthening your adductors.
When standing on the pedal, such as in Washer Woman 3 or Side Pull up, you don't have to choose whether your toes or heels are "hanging off" the pedal. It's definitely long enough to fit both your feet flat one behind the other. My shoe size is 7.5 but as you can see in the image below, there is plenty of space for bigger feet.
People with wide shoulders will be able to find a comfortable hand position in exercises like Reverse Swan, Swan From The Floor, or Seated Tricep Press/Dips (The Wunda Chair pedal, for example, is much too narrow for many students.)
The MVe Single Pedal Chair comes with 2 springs that engage together. This gives you only 4 different spring settings: 1, 2, 3, or 4. (If you compare it to a Wunda Chair, think of it as 1+1, 2+2, 3+3, and 4+4. Both springs engage at the same height). This setup makes it an incredibly simple machine. If you're just starting to practice or teach Pilates Chair exercise repertoire, this will make your life so much easier.
You can't really go wrong with your choice of springs. I basically always use either 2 or 3. I use 4 only when the pedal is lifting my whole body weight (when both my feet are on the pedal). I use 1 only for single-arm or single-leg exercises where I'm particularly weak, or for exercises like Side Balance/Lateral Flexion or Swan to increase the challenge (by giving me less assistance).
Fewer spring settings also allow you to do more exercises with the same spring setting, so you can flow from one exercise directly to the next.
I love when a company pays attention to detail and usability. The numbers for the spring settings are labeled (albeit subtly) on the top and bottom of the spring bar (center pole). So when you're lying on the ground, you can see what the spring resistance is set to without getting up.
There are two small black cushions on each side of the frame that stop the foot pedal from coming all the way down to the ground. In exercises like Standing Leg Pump - where the pedal could crush your toes if you don't pay attention - this will save you the daily warning to "watch your toes" when setting up for this exercise.
The newer MVe chair models have a different system, but they still have an option that stops the pedal from hitting the floor, your toes, or your fingers.
Space For My Mat
This chair comes with small knobs below the frame which prevent the chair from sliding around. It is very sturdy and the base is quite wide which helps with this too.
On the Balanced Body Wunda Chair and Combo Chair, I always had to position my mat just right. I often saw students stand in front of the chair (for Standing Leg Pump for example) with their foot halfway on and off the mat. There is no wooden base with this chair, so nothing can get in the way.
Stackable and lightweight
If your intention with this chair is to teach group classes, then you can stack 5 of these, which saves you on room rent. You can double your mat studio as a chair studio, simply by stacking 5 chairs when not in use. If you have a home studio with limited space, having 2 chairs allows you to teach semi-private Pilates sessions and moving the Chair into a corner when not in use.
It's quite light, without compromising stability. That's a nice balance. (Peak's customer service says it's 47 lbs, which I couldn't confirm because I don't own a scale. I didn't feel that heavy to me, but that's of course subjective.)
I lift it by standing as close as possible in front of the pedal and grabbing the two sides of the seat. I then bend my knees in a half squat, hinge at my hips, and lift with a straight back. This way I won't hurt my back moving it.
Once I've lifted it, I can push the pedal all the way against the seat, which brings the chair closer to the center of gravity of my body, and now that I'm standing upright, it makes it easier to move to a different place in the room.
I'm a huge fan of chair handles for exercises such as Front or Side Lunges (Going Up Front/Side) or even Standing Leg Pumps (for beginners or older clients). In Side Balance, for example, it's almost impossible for many students to get the alignment right without the help of the handles, even for young fit clients.
The fact that this chair has the option of adding handles is a huge plus for me over - let's say the comparable EXO chair by Balanced Body.
I had to order a few parts that needed replacing. I'm not sure how old the chair is, but you might see in the pictures, that it's been through some tough times. The customer service person I talked to was very helpful and accommodating. That's always a good sign, as it means your equipment will retain its value.
What I dislike about the Peak Pilates MVe Chair
While the simplicity of the spring settings can be a huge benefit for a beginner, if you're an experienced teacher working with very different clientele - then this can be a disadvantage. You might need to fine-tune more than the single pedal chair allows. Peak Pilates also makes a split pedal option, which increases the number of possible spring settings from 4 to 14. Of course, the split pedal also opens up a variety of new exercises.
Slippery Seat Cushion
I bought this chair used, which means I don't know if the seat cushion was this slippery when it was new, or whether the cleaning product that the previous owner(s) used caused it to become so slick. This is easily fixable by placing a sticky pad on the seat. If you bought this chair new, please let me know in the comments if the cushion is slick or provides a bit of traction. (Update: One of my members just bought this chair and said the seat cushion is not slippery. Yay.)
Would I buy it again?
Definitely yes! But I would opt for the split pedal version, as it opens up more repertoire, such as rotational movements and exercises that allow asymmetrical loading, such as single-leg or single-arm exercises.
We've added spring settings for this Chair to all exercises inside the Pilates Encyclopedia Member Library. Learn how to get access...
Now I want to hear from you:
Which chair do you use or have access to at a studio? What do you like and dislike about it? Tell me in the comments.