Updated: Sep 15
Pilates is the ultimate universal workout. It can boost strength, mobility, and flexibility while providing tons of health benefits. Here's what you need to get started.
The Absolute Best Pilates Home Equipment to Transform Your Body
Whether you frequent the local pilates studio or you're completely new to the exercise regimen, doing a pilates practice at home can be a game changer. You can bring the studio experience to your home by choosing the right equipment.
Your workout equipment can take your practice to the next level and get the results you've always dreamed of. Plus, having everything you need for your pilates practice, like a pilates reformer or pilates balls, at your fingertips means you'll never skip a workout, so you can reach that transformed body even faster. Here are my top recommendations.
Are Pilates Workouts Right for You? (Spoiler Alert: Yes!)
Before starting any exercise routine or investing in exercise equipment, it's important to consider whether the type of exercise is right for you. The great thing about pilates is that it's a good fit for just about anyone. This is because pilates offers a huge array of benefits while also being a low-impact, whole-body workout.
Pilates challenges your stability, strength, flexibility, and mobility. It forces you to connect your mind to your body and encourages you to focus on your breathing. Even moves that look simple can be tough, especially if you're moving with the control and intention that pilates teaches.
Even though pilates can be mentally and physically difficult, it's great for people of all ages and fitness backgrounds. Pilates exercises can be adjusted for any fitness level. And, since it trains you to be aware of your body and maintain great form, it can help you enjoy functional mobility in all other areas of your life.
The Benefits of Pilates for the Mind and Body
So what can you expect to gain from doing pilates? Aside from the physical changes in appearance, like muscle toning, here are just a few of the many benefits:
Improves posture by boosting awareness of your body alignment and enhancing the strength of your muscles [*]
Boosts core strength since pilates puts an emphasis on the core as the center of movement [*]
Increases energy levels by improving blood circulation, oxygen flow, and feel-good hormones [*]
Improves flexibility and mobility by combining stretching and strengthening exercises with slow, controlled movements [*]
May boost cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain, encouraging the development of new neurons, and improving the longevity of the neurons you use to learn and remember things [*]
Enhances immune system function by improving circulation, including blood flow and lymph fluid [*]
Improves your mood by releasing endorphins that can lower fatigue, anxiety, the symptoms of depression, and negative thought patterns [*]
The Best Pilates Equipment for Your Home Studio
Your pilates routine can be super simple - for example, with some mat pilates classes, you just need a yoga mat! However, to advance your practice and really get the most out of your workouts, you'll need a few pieces of equipment.
Since you're likely to run into tons of equipment in a pilates class - from pilates reformers and pilates rings to pilates chairs and resistance bands, it can be hard to know where to start! Here are the five pieces of equipment that will really get you the results you desire.
Any good home gym should have a pilates reformer. Pilates reformers are traditional pieces of equipment that look similar to a bed with springs, ropes, pulleys, and a sliding carriage. Pilates reformers were actually designed by Joseph Pilates himself, so they are a very necessary piece of pilates equipment.
Pilates reformer machines include a reformer box, called the carriage, which you lay or sit on. The carriage moves back and forth on the frame, and on the end is an adjustable bar, which we refer to as a footbar. However, the footbar can be used by your hands and feet. You'll also notice straps with handles that are attached to the top of the frame. All of these elements of the pilates reformer help you do a wide variety of exercises to help you build strength length, balance, and flexibility.
The Merrithew Pilates Reformer Bundle is the perfect foundation to start your home gym because of its customizability. It includes four full tension and one half-tension reformer springs so you can get a variety of resistance options, a padded platform extender, and an adjustable four-position foot bar. It also includes various accessories, like the reformer box, a metal roll-up pole, and two workout DVDs.
Like the pilates reformer, the pilates chair was created by Joseph Pilates himself. This piece of pilates equipment is key for strength and balance exercises. It can help you tone your core, arms, and legs. You can use it by sitting, lying, or standing on the chair, as well as standing alongside the pilates chair for certain movements.
Pilates chairs are often found in pilates studios with a certified personal trainer, but are also important to have at home. They're easy to move and use, so you'll use them often but can also easily store them.
I recommend the Merrithew pilates chair because you can adjust its settings to suit your workouts and build up the intensity as you gain more experience. It comes with two heavy chair springs and two light chair springs, as well as three hook-on spring attachments and vinyl-covered pedals. Its handles are fully adjustable and attach and detach easily, so you can do dips and lunges safely.
It has two pedals, which you can set to lock together or move independently depending on your workout. Plus, it's very compact overall, so it's perfect for a smaller home gym.
The magic circle, also known as the pilates ring, adds resistance to your workouts. It comes in two sizes - 12 inches of 15 inches. Regardless of which size you choose for your home pilates studio, this pilates ring has a resistance level that is equal to a three-band Spring Circle.
You can use it for various parts of the body to shape, condition, tone, and build flexibility. The Balanced Body brand is great because it includes padded cushion handles that are easy to hold. Plus, it comes with a 15-minute training video so you can learn beginner and expert exercises.
The pilates arc barrel is multifaceted, providing opportunities for stretching, resistance training, and mobility work during your pilates workouts. You can lay across it to stretch the spine, or use it as a wedge on your pilates reformer to challenge your mobility and strength. The arc can target the whole body and is used for the arms, shoulders, legs, feet, spine, and lower back. Plus, it works for both smaller and larger bodies.
The Balanced Body Motr is a combination of resistance bands and foam roller. With it, you can practice eight different positions while challenging yourself with a variety of resistance levels.
The Motr provides a full body workout and allows you to practice strength training, cardio, and functional training. Plus, you can work on your core, agility, balance, and planks. This pilates machine can be used in group training or individually. It's transportable and weighs in at only 20 pounds, so you can travel with it - unlike a reformer or chair.
A springboard challenges your body in a totally different way compared to traditional weight training. It has a bounce to it, which is unpredictable and forces your body to use postural stability and core strength. This ultimately leads you to be able to move with complete control and grace.
The Balanced Body springboard mounts to the wall, so it doesn't take up much space. It includes 22 spring attachment points, a maple roll-down bar, two cotton loops, two neoprene handles, a maple dowel footbar, and red springs with snaps.
A pilates mat is not just a yoga mat. Since many moves in pilates start on the mat on your back, it's important that you get the proper support. That means a thicker, denser mat. Pilates mats also have a smoother surface than yoga mats, as pilates requires you to balance and glide through movements. The 5/8 inch thick mat will cushion your body, protecting your joints as you perform various pilates moves. The Balanced Body mat is also extra long with a smooth surface, perfect for gliding through movements while maintaining proper form. No need to worry about how much space you have, as you can roll it up when you're done.
You can get all the benefits of working out with a certified pilates instructor in club pilates from the comfort of your own home with the pilates equipment described above. You might choose to start small with a mat and magic circle, or commit to a reformer from the start. Either way, you can practice the same exercises at home as you would in studio and get the same amazing results.