How and when to find a local upholsterer

Ripped, torn, or cut vinyl on your Pilates equipment may not be a safety issue, but it sure ages the equipment.  For some brands and models of equipment, replacing the upholstery and foam doesn’t require and upholstery skills at all!  But for other brands, models, and even parts of a typical setup, custom upholstery is the only option besides buying a whole new piece of equipment.

As a maintenance tech, I’ve done one full custom reupholstery job of Gratz equipment.  It was a lot of work, even though I had the right tools and am quite handy! By the end of the weekend the pads of my fingers were tender to the touch because they were pulled away from my fingernails so much, stretching the vinyl tight over the contours of the equipment.

SInce then I only refer my clients to local upholsterers for those kinds of jobs.

Upholstery is tough.  

Not only is it hard on your body, but if you don’t get it quite right it shows pretty darn quickly!  

Not being able to pull the vinyl tight enough can stretched out areas where clients kneel or sit.  

Not using a high enough grade of vinyl can cause it to discolor, wear down, or rip prematurely.

So what do I recommend instead?

Your local automotive upholsterer!

There are often several mobile automotive upholsterers in your area, who are capable of coming to you and working on your equipment on-site.  

These professionals are often able to source vinyl for you if you don’t want to order by the yard, or pre-stitched, from the manufacturer.   (Just remember, high-quality vinyl is a MUST, so it doesn’t stretch from kneeling, or degrade from skin oils or daily cleaners.)

They can sew when needed.

And, they can do it quickly!

Still nervous about trusting someone from outside the Pilates industry?  Go look at your car seat. Look at all those curves! Automotive upholsterers work with complicated geometry all day long.  The relative squareness of Pilates equipment is so much less tricky than that.

If you can’t find a mobile upholsterer, you can also take pieces of your equipment to the upholsterer.  Usually, this means that particular piece of equipment might be out of commission for a day or more, but if you do one piece at a time you can minimize the impact on your studio.

Remember, when looking for an upholsterer be sure to check their reviews on a website like Yelp and talk to them in-person or over the phone.  They’ll often need some photos of the equipment to get an idea of what they’d be working on before giving you a quote.

Common components of your Pilates studio that need to be custom re-upholstered include:

  • All sitting boxes
  • All Gratz and Pilates Designs (by Basil) equipment
  • Mat conversions
  • Raised mats
  • Moonboxes

As always, if you have any questions feel free to send them to me at  I’m happy to help.

Happy Reforming!