The Gratz Cadillac: TRULY The Best of its Kind

The Gratz Cadillac: TRULY the Best of its Kind

Photo by Jack Coble

I hope you'll enjoy this re-post of an article I wrote for Gratz Pilates a little while back. Originally published on their blog, I thought you'd also appreciate my bit of Pilates detective work. Treat yourself to a Cadillac workout afterward and you'll be glad you did 🙂

It’s been said that Joe’s Cadillac apparatus received its name from a mid-century General Motors’ Cadillac advertisement which declared the car to be “the best of its kind.”

Would vintage Cadillac adverts help me to locate the specific ad?

I’m curious.

Could this story be true?

Sadly, the roots of the Cadillac name need to be relegated to the category of “more myths about Joe Pilates and his apparatus” as I did not find an ad with the specific wording ‘the best of its kind.'

Oh, but vintage Cadillac ads would please Joe Pilates GREATLY.

They kinda sound like him.

The Cadillac ads of the 40s and 50s share the same emphatic tone we find in JP’s manifesto, Return to Life.

Imagine Joe vehemently declaring the following about his Cadillac apparatus:

The universal symbol of achievement!

(See? Universal – a good Joe Pilates word.)

In a realm all its own…

(so Game of Thrones…)

Magnificent beyond all expectations!

(Mine is built like a Mack truck, yo.)

Styled to be copied for years to come!

(How true, how true…)

Beside it all others look obsolete!

(They really like their exclamation points…)

A great experience awaits you!

It will aid to your Happiness!

(I know, right??)

Come home to it after your vacation!

(Oh gosh yes!!! That’s when I need it the most.)

You get the point.

The idea of the story rings true even if the precise slogan is not “the best of its kind.”

Clearly, General Motors and Joe Pilates were thrilled with their creations.

Simplicity in Form and Function

Years ago I worked in a fully-equipped Gratz studio with a vintage Gratz Cadillac built by Donald Gratz. It featured a unique X-shaped safety chain and the studio owner had further equipped it with numerous spring choices.

We had extra leg springs and arm springs, baby arm chair springs and springs from other manufacturers perhaps as well.

We had a spring for each and every scenario one might encounter with a client.

Truthfully at the time I loved having such a choice. It seemed ideal.

Five years later I ordered my Gratz Cadillac.

My one concern was that my new Cadillac wouldn’t include all those extra springs I had come to rely on and utilize.

How would that be?

Would the springs be “too heavy” for some of my clients?

I really wasn’t sure.

My own Cadillac…


Nothing says commitment quite like assembling a Cadillac in your house.

(But it will aid to my happiness!)

Finally the day arrived to try out my new springs Cadillac.

Leg Springs and Arm Springs.

Oh and the Roll Back bar springs – there’s a boon – some extra springs I hadn’t counted on.

But that’s it.


Lying on the Cadillac I learned a valuable lesson about our beloved Pilates method:

The springs must be sufficient to coax the body into a full body workout.

I need to use my whole body to work the springs properly.

The Gratz Cadillac: TRULY The Best of its Kind

This is no arm exercise!

And these springs are PERFECT.

We live in an era with choices of ridiculous proportion.

Enter the Gratz Cadillac: there are choices. Arm Springs? or Leg Springs? Even a few choices for where to place them – low or high – or for standing exercises.

And that’s enough.

Another ad slogan described my feeling for my Gratz Cadillac perfectly:

It’s a “Cadillac among Cadillacs!”

I couldn’t have said it better.

Again – the finest can be YOURS!

What are you waiting for?

Find me in 2017 at a studio near you!

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  1. Angela Buzan says


  2. Alessandra says

    Hey there! Lovely to see you back posting as usual! Although it was a big treat to spend time with you in London recently….lucky me???? Hope you’re fully recovered from the Engligh bug!! ????
    This post reminds me of your very useful and informative workshop you gave on the Cadillac ‘unsung heroes’ …. I’m still polishing off my notes and getting stuck in, so to speak!! My humble tower (no flashy Gratz Cadillac for me – yet????) Serves me well and I can enjoy the fundamental exercises which feel new to me as my spine opens up thanks to the barrel challenge! Yay!!
    I have a quick question re springs…with the edited Gratz spring selection which of the springs do you use for the push through bar? I seem to have several options ….???? And for tower? I have yet another longer spring that I can use for the tower … Hmmm….
    Looking forward to seeing you next week????????????????????????????

    • Hi there – apologies for the delay in response 🙁 About your Cadillac springs and which to use for the Push Through Bar and for Tower. The springs that attach to the Push Thru Bar both from above and below are the heaviest springs on the Cadillac. They are shorter than Leg Springs and Arm Springs, but heavier. See what you think. Hope this is helpful.
      I look forward to seeing you soon! Can’t wait until our Pilates party 🙂

  3. Loved this post! I am slowly replacing my Peak and Balanced Body with Gratz in my studio. My Gratz Cadillac is on order and should arrive sometime this summer. I honestly can’t wait! I remember some of my mentors telling me when I was going through instructor training with Peak that Gratz Cadillacs just weren’t long enough for people like me. (I’m 6 foot tall.). After using one at the Ft. Worth Classical Pilates conference this year, my answer to that is “Baloney!” Ha! 🙂

    • Ha ha good for you Julie! Yes I have a Gratz Cadillac and I had a student 6’8″ who could work just fine on it.
      Wow that is exciting 🙂 Happy Summer to you!Maybe it WILL be Christmas in July LOL

  4. Angela Horswill says

    Just curious, I’ve never been on a Gratz however I’m curious about their Springs. if I got the Gratz Leg Springs and arm springs for my balanced body Tower would it replicate the same feeling as other Gratz equipment? I would like to compare and contrast. Or do you recommend trying the new BB Contrology springs instead? Thank you!

    • Hi Angela – Thank you so much for reading and for reaching out to me with your questions. These are excellent questions. I have the Contrology springs on my Gratz Reformer and love them. I also liked the Gratz springs I had on this Reformer. If you got the Gratz leg and arm springs for your Cadillac they would function in the same ways but the dimensions of your Cadillac may be different than a Gratz Cadillac. This slight difference and may change the feel of the springs… But I encourage you to try them out and feel for yourself. I do love the Contrology springs on the Reformer. They just feel perfect – not too strong and not too light. If you are not a subscriber to my YouTube channel – check it out – next month there will be a giveaway featuring some contrology products 🙂 stay tuned! xox

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