First, a big thank you to Stephanie Singer from Uniquity Pilates in New London, New Hampshire for letting me borrow her Exo Chair for this review.
When choosing a Pilates Chair for your studio or home, there are a lot of options to choose from. In previous blog posts, we have already reviewed the Peak Pilates MVe Chair and the STOTT Merrithew Split Pedal Stability Chair. Today, let’s take a look at the features of the Balanced Body Exo Chair.
Sturdy, But Lightweight
There are so many things to list in the “Pros” column. First of all, it’s a really well-made chair. It feels very solid and sturdy which is impressive considering that it’s lightweight. It’s easy to pick it up and move around when you need to, but the feet at the bottom keep it secure when it’s in use.
The Exo Chair has 2 springs attached in the center which makes a difference for many exercises.
While many Chairs attach the springs to the outside of the pedal, the center springs on the Exo Chair help to bring awareness to the pubis, which serves as muscle attachment for adductors, and the pelvic floor. You can feel this in exercises such as Seated Leg Pumps. One downside to consider is that the springs could be in your way if you’re used to keeping your feet together.
Split Pedal Option
This Chair can be ordered or retrofitted with a split pedal, which opens up some great exercises. I would definitely recommend the split pedal. You simply pull out a wooden dowel and the two sides of the pedal will move independently. (Make sure to have a spring attached to both pedal halves before removing the dowel, or it'll crash to the floor. Not fun for the apparatus nor the other people in the room trying to focus on their workout.)
When having only one spring attached and the dowel in place to connect those two half pedals, there is a bit of a shift and accompanied noise when first pressing down. It's a bit of a delayed reaction since the force has to be transferred from one pedal half via the dowel to the second pedal half. It's noticeable, but I guess you'll get used to it.
Unfortunately, there seems to be an issue with the pedal alignment over time. When it is new, the two pedals pass each other perfectly. Over time, however, the pedals start to bump into each other, usually at lower heights. It’s my guess that the direction of pull from the springs that originate from one spring tree in the center, causes the wood to warp over time.
Wide Foot Pedal
The pedal is made from wood which contributes to this Chair feeling solid and sturdy. The pads on the pedal are round and wider than on the Wunda Chair which makes it more accessible for more people, especially those with wide shoulders. The wider pad on the pedal is possible because the springs are attached to the inside.
The Exo Chair is 2 inches wider and higher than the Wunda Chair. According to the dimensions on the Balanced Body website, it’s 2 inches higher but it didn’t feel to me like it’s that much higher.
It has the option of adding resistance bands called Slastix.
Balanced Body makes a sitting box riser for the Exo Chair which is a great option. For example, if you have a student who can’t do Swan from the top without the legs being supported, this is a great option.
No Handles ☹️
This brings me to one very big consideration in the “Cons” column. Unfortunately, this Chair doesn’t have the option for handles. Many students depend on them for balance, so if this is the first chair you’re buying to teach with, I highly recommend you get one with handles. This is especially important to consider in a group class, where you can’t spot everyone at the same time. My recommendation is to leave out any exercises that require a great amount of balance, such as Standing Leg Pump, and those where you’d be standing on top of the chair, such as Forward Lunges or Side Lunges. Even in exercises such as Side Balance, I prefer having the poles to help with alignment. But it’s definitely fine to teach group classes using the Balanced Body Exo Chair, just choose appropriate exercises for the people in your class. Don’t put anyone at risk. (I probably like the poles because they keep my heart rate and adrenaline levels at a manageable level. Ha! But I’m a scaredy-cat.)
The Balanced Body Exo Chair is more affordable than both the Wunda Chair and Combo Chair. It's very similarly priced to the Peak Pilates MVe chair, but that has the option to purchase handles (later), which for me, is a huge plus.
Bottom line, if you want to add a second or third chair to your studio, then the Balanced Body Exo Chair would be a great choice. If you are looking for your one and only chair, look at one that comes with (the option of adding) handles.
Clearly, there’s a lot to consider but I hope this helps you make an informed decision.
What features do you like best and least about the Chair you currently use?