The trapeze table is probably the most versatile and supportive piece of Pilates equipment. Which is why we love using it in our classes and 1-2-1s at Complete Pilates.

The trapeze table, or cadillac as it is also known, provides lots of support for beginners and people with injuries as they get to grips with the basic Pilates movements. At the same time, it can also help clients to achieve the most challenging movements in the Pilates repertoire.

But how exactly does the trapeze table work? And why is it so great for your body? Below you’ll find details on the important features of the trapeze table, the ways it can be used and the benefits of doing Pilates on it.

So, Pilates enthusiasts, read on and find out everything you need to know about the trapeze table.

The main features of the trapeze table

The trapeze table was the very first piece of Pilates apparatus designed by Joseph Pilates. It is the also biggest and most imposing out of all the Pilates equipment.

The original version was very basic, however. In fact, it was little more than a bed with springs attached to the metal bedstead. This is because Joe made it by adapting the hospital beds of his fellow inmates while he was captive in an internment camp during WW1.

For these reasons (and despite its name) the trapeze table actually resembles more of an old fashioned four poster bed than a table. It consists of a leather-clad table or “bed” area for lying on and a metal frame with four uprights positioned at each corner of the table.

The four uprights are covered in lots of small metal loops. These provide different attachment points for springs.

Attached to the frame and floating above the table area are the trapeze bar and the fluffy stirrups. These are designed for hanging exercises. Between the two uprights at one end of the table is a push bar. At the other end is a cross bar.

These features mean that an endless number of exercises are possible on the trapeze table.

Trapeze table - A Pilates practitioner lying on his back on a trapeze table with his feet attached to straps held above him.

The trapeze table supports injury rehabilitation

How does it work?

The Pilates trapeze table is very simple in design. But this is what makes it such a brilliant piece of equipment.

The springs

Springs of different tensions can be easily attached to the loops that cover the metal uprights. Using these loops, exercises to strengthen and mobilise joints in the legs and arms, like arms and leg circles, are easy to prepare.

Thanks to the number of attachment points, the height of springs can also be easily adjusted. Exercises can therefore be performed on the trapeze table lying down, in side lying, kneeling or standing.

Springs can also be attached to the cross bar, which itself can be easily lowered or raised. Depending on the exercise being performed, moving the cross bar can help to make movements appropriate for different heights or different abilities.

The push bar can be sprung with springs of different tensions to alter the difficulty level of exercises. It can be used by both hands and feet. It can support more basic movements as well as challenging ones.

The trapeze swing

The hanging trapeze swing can be attached to the top of the frame and used in a variety of ways. Common exercises using the trapeze swing involve bridge-type exercises to work on spine mobility. For added difficulty, the trapeze attachment can be used from a standing position with your feet on the swing to improve hamstring flexibility.

The metal frame

The metal frame itself supports various “hanging” exercises, such as pull-ups, which help to build upper body strength. The two fluffy stirrups attached to the top of the frame are also designed for hanging exercises. These movements are great for decompressing the spine.

Trapeze table - A Pilates practitioner lying on a trapeze table with head and arms flat but the rest of her body is elevated at a 45 degree angle with her feet resting on a bar above her head. Situation - Pilates studio

Challenge your body with the trapeze table

What are the benefits of the trapeze table?

The trapeze table and rehabilitation

The Pilates trapeze table is an incredibly supportive piece of equipment.

Unlike with the unstable carriage on a reformer bed, the bed area of the trapeze table is fixed. This creates a solid base of support for the person practising Pilates, which makes certain exercises less challenging.

Exercises like roll downs, for example, that encourage the spine to move while increasing abdominal strength are often part of our client rehabilitation programmes and can be performed on both the trapeze table and reformer. They are much more attainable on the trapeze table, however, thanks to the stable bed.

The metal frame design also makes it possible for springs to be sprung from various angles (including from above) and attached to the limbs of the person on the table. This allows clients to experience ease of movement, which is an important part of the process of rehabilitation.

For physiotherapists with Pilates training, the trapeze table’s frame design and elevated bed allows them to perform manual therapy on their clients along with Pilates – a particularly effective combination.

All of this means that people who are struggling to perform basic exercises – perhaps due to injury or illness – can really benefit from Pilates on this apparatus.

The trapeze table is also used for advanced exercises

But don’t let all this talk about rehab make you think that this piece of equipment is easy or only for injured people. This is definitely not the case.

In fact, the metal frame of the trapeze table makes the most dramatic and most acrobatic movements in the Pilates repertoire. The hanging spine extension and flexion become possible.

These exercises look impressive – and they do impressive things for your body.

Try the Pilates trapeze table

Interested in experiencing the benefits of the Pilates trapeze table for yourself? Then why not try a 1-2-1 session or studio class with Complete Pilates.

Want to learn more about the equipment? Then check back next week for our post on the Pilates barrel and spine corrector.

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Education is key:

These blogs are designed to give information to everyone, however, it is important to remember that everyone is different! If you have not seen one of our therapists and have any questions about injuries, what you have read or whether this may be useful to you, please just ask.

At Complete Pilates we would advise you to always speak to your doctor, physiotherapist, or clinical Pilates instructor here at Complete Pilates if you are worried about starting a new exercise regime.
We are more than happy to help anyone and point you in the right direction. Our biggest belief is that education is key. The more you understand about your injury, illness and movement, the more you are likely to improve.