When it comes to Pilates a lot of people become confused when you say, "Have you done Pilates on the Apparatus?". Most people believe Pilates to be mat Pilates, or even better yet... Yoga! (but that's a different blog). Pilates is BOTH. Mat & Equipment. But there are definite differences between the two:
Mat Pilates is for the Physically fit! WHAAAAT??? Yes, that is correct. Mat Pilates was designed by Joseph Pilates and was meant for the physically fit. Mat Pilates does not offer as much assistance to movement as the Pilates Reformer, Tower/Cadillac, Chair & Barrel. The whole purpose of Pilates equipment was to give assistance in movement for those whom have suffered an injury, gone through surgery, or life has just taken its tole and has made movement hard to execute.
Equipment Pilates is designed to get you back to your anatomical correct alignment by exposing your misalignments. Using the Equipment, specifically the Reformer, it is almost impossible NOT to see your misalignments. That is why a lot of clients opt for Private lessons for a CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR will be able to see your misalignments almost immediately and be able to help guide you on how to correct you back to a better posture. Mat Pilates does not have the structured equipment to help the Instructor identify what is throwing your alignment off, ergo it is easier for misalignments to slide by the Instructor and easier for the client to hide them.
Equipment Pilates uses spring resistance and mat uses body resistance. Equipment Pilates has springs attached to every piece of equipment, except the Barrel (Barrel is an exception for it is a side piece of equipment), and is used to give the body resistance to help modify or intensify the exercise. Mat Pilates you are using your body weight versus gravity to execute the exercise.
I hope this short blog helps you understand a little more about the difference between Mat & Equipment Pilates.