Product: Balanced Body Pilates Contour / Avalon Spine Corrector Step Barrel Review
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
Dimensions: 41cm x 94cm x 34cm
Weight: 13 kg
My Rating: 9.8 out of 10
Pilates Spine Correctors Are Ideal For Home Use
Spine correctors, also referred to as step barrels or Pilates barrels, were originally invented by Joseph Pilates. Like the Universal Reformer, Pilates Chair and Foot Corrector, they belong to the group of patented exercise apparatus that Pilates created with spine health in mind.
They are quite compact and ideal for use at home which might be the reason why they are so popular today. There are quite a few models around making it hard to choose one. But if you know what to look out for and what to consider when buying a spine corrector or step barrel, it will make your decision much easier.
First of all, Pilates barrels vary in size and if you are on the tall side, you need to make sure it has the right dimensions to suit you. Also, the incline of the curve varies from model to model and should be considered.
Another factor to look at is the quality and material of the barrel. Whilst most spine corrector barrels are of wooden construction, some are sturdier than others. Similarly, the top may be of PU or PVC leather, also referred to as vegan leather, or real leather and whilst these materials pretty much look the same, PU/PVC leather tends to be less durable than real leather although some people prefer vegan leather for ethical reasons.
Finally, you need to consider how versatile you want your barrel to be. Some Pilates barrels have cut-outs as well as dowels for handholds whilst others just have dowels, handles or cut-outs.
Key Features of the Balanced Body Contour / Avalon Spine Corrector Step Barrel
With its dimensions of 41cm wide x 94cm long x 34cm high (16” x 347” x 134.25”), the Contour Step Barrel is a larger version of a spine corrector. It has an elongated arch and a rounded step providing a gentle barrel curve. Weighing 13 kg (28lbs), it features dowels and cut-out handholds. Also, the frame is made of sturdy laminated wood whilst its upholstery is made of Naugahyde vinyl.
One stand-out feature is the fact that the barrel can be upgraded to offer the full functionality of the Balanced Body Avalon Step Barrel. Adding sockets and spring arms (available as an extra) will convert the Contour into the Avalon model. On top of that, there are further accessories available, such as neoprene handles, cotton loops, hooks, springs and carabiners for attaching to the spring arms.
Due to its elongated arch and size, the Contour Step Barrel is suitable for a wider range of users and is also ideal for tall people. As it has a more rounded step and gentle incline, it offers more comfort and better ergonomics making it a good choice for users with restricted flexibility.
The fact that it features dowels on top of cut-out handholds adds to the versatility of this piece of equipment as it can be used for a more comprehensive range of exercises making sure you can bring the spine corrector closer to your body when performing certain exercises.
Being of sturdy wooden construction means that you can expect it to last a good deal longer than models in the lower budget category, such as the Stamina Spine Corrector Barrel. Also, as it is solid craftsmanship, you won’t come across any rough edges or areas that could leave a splinter, as is the case with some budget models.
A unique advantage is, however, its capability to upgrade to the full functionality of the Avalon model offering the possibility to perform a wide variety of resistance exercises on top of the stretching, strengthening and conditioning exercises for your back, legs, torso and shoulders. This means that you are able to perform exercises that are usually only possible on a Reformer or Cadillac.
The main drawback of the Contour barrel is probably its price. Being in the over $500 category, it’s available at more than double the price of a budget spine corrector. However, it’s in good company with other quality Pilates barrels, such as the Stott Pilates Merrithew Spine Corrector or the Universal Pilates Spine Corrector that are of sturdy built but less versatile.
Another feature that might be a disadvantage for some users is the material of the barrel’s upholstery. As it is made of Naugahyde vinyl – artificial rather than real leather – it is less durable than genuine leather although featuring high tear strength.
The Verdict: High Quality and Highly Versatile Piece of Pilates Home Equipment
The Contour Step Barrel is a great choice if you are looking for a studio-quality spine corrector for home use that offers great functionality and versatility. It might not be a low-budget model, but you get what you pay for.
Due to its strong design, it should last for many years to come and not break under heavy use like some cheaper models. And if you are on the taller side or tend to struggle getting on and off a spine corrector, you will love doing exercises on this Pilates barrel as its elongated arch and gentle incline make it far more comfortable.
Also, you will have a traditional Joseph Pilates Spine Corrector with the option to upgrade to the innovative Avalon model at a later time if you wish to add the spring system to allow resistance-based exercises for a full body workout.
Overall, it’s probably the best combination of high quality and versatility in a Pilates spine corrector.