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Pilates is a low impact exercise that focuses on core strengthening, improving postural alignment and flexibility. You can take Pilates classes at a studio, or you can easily perform Pilates in the comfort of your own home with just a small space and a few supplies. This makes Pilates the perfect workout on days you don't want to hassle with the gym. Our guide will teach you about what equipment you'll need at home to start a Pilates routine.
Pilates can be done at home with nothing more than a flat surface; however, you get even more benefit from your workout by adding a few small pieces of equipment. There are two variations of Pilates to consider - mat Pilates or reformer Pilates. The equipment you'll need for each will differ slightly. These basic pieces of equipment can get you started in Pilates:
- Thick yoga mat
- Magic circle or Pilates ring
- Pilates ball
- Resistance bands
- Water bottle
- Pilates books
- Pilates DVDs
- Pilates reformer
- Pilates Wunda chair
Continue reading to learn about how each of these items fits into a Pilates workout and tips on choosing equipment.
Creating A Home Pilates Studio
When considering what you'll need to practice Pilates at home, you'll need to decide the type of Pilates you want to do. Reformer Pilates is a more advanced form of Pilates and uses a reformer and/or a Pilates chair to help perform the specific Pilates movements. Mat Pilates is suitable for beginners and uses a yoga mat and a few small props rather than a reformer machine.
To create your own home Pilates studio, you'll want to invest in a few pieces of workout equipment. These items will make your Pilates workout even more effective and help with core strength and flexibility. Let's explore each item and how it will benefit your Pilates practice.
Thick Yoga Mat
Any standard yoga mat will get you started, but a thicker mat helps cushion pressure points while practicing Pilates. You'll be spending a lot of time on the floor doing Pilates movements, and a well-cushioned mat will keep you feeling comfortable throughout the workout.
This Pilates mat provides a non-slip surface and extra padding to protect against injury.
Magic Circle Or Pilates Ring
The Pilates ring or "magic circle" is a circle with a handle on each side. The ring is used to tone thighs, abs, legs, and arms. The ring is a versatile tool that can be used during many Pilates movements. Using a magic ring adds light resistance to your workout. The purpose of the props used in mat Pilates, including the magic circle, is to replicate motions that would normally be done using a much higher priced Reformer machine.
How Do You Choose A Pilates Ring?
When choosing a Pilates ring, consider a few things. Consider your height and weight along with the body area you intend to exercise with the ring. Smaller rings would work better for petite individuals and body areas such as the upper body or thighs.
Larger rings are good for the lower legs. You may want to have a few sizes on hand for different areas. As you advance in your Pilates practices, you may want to move to a heavier ring and have more tension.
Pilates balls are available in various sizes. These balls are useful in performing various Pilates exercises. Balls help build core stability and lengthen muscles. The ball can be used in exercises that promote balance and develop control and strength in the core muscles.
What Size Small Pilates Ball Do You Need?
Mini Pilates balls can be used to improve strength and flexibility in the abdominal, upper body, and lower back regions. Mini balls are available in nine-, ten-, or twelve-inch diameters. Choose a size that feels best for you during your workout.
What Size Exercise Ball Do You Need?
The Pilates ball size should be tailored to your individual height. The following chart will help you choose the right sized ball:
|Person's Height||Exercise Ball Diameter|
|5'1" - 5'8"||55 cm|
|5'9" - 6'2"||65 cm|
|6'3" - 6'7"||75 cm|
|6'8" and taller||85 cm|
Pilates resistance bands are a great option for strength building. Bands come in different strengths to allow you to customize the resistance level. Exercises that incorporate resistance bands strengthen muscles while also improving flexibility and posture. Bands can be used to increase the intensity of the workout as you improve in Pilates.
As with any exercise, make sure you stay well hydrated during and after physical activity.
Pilates books are a fantastic way to learn Pilates movements. Books can focus on technique from beginning through advanced. When learning from books, not only will you learn the movements, but you can also gain an understanding of the history and principles associated with Pilates.
In addition to books, DVDs that demonstrate and assist you in completing a full Pilates workout can help complete workouts. It can be beneficial to watch someone else performing the motions when you are learning Pilates techniques.
Reformer Pilates is a method of Pilates that uses a specialized machine to complete the Pilates movements. Reformer machines can be purchased for home use, but are a major investment.
Beginners may want to start with the props listed above before committing to a reformer machine. The reformer will take the place of many of the props used in mat Pilates and assist the user in performing each Pilates movement. The reformer can help isolate the specific muscle group intended to be worked during a Pilates move.
Pilates Wunda Chair
The Pilates chair is another substantial investment for more advanced Pilates practitioners. The chair helps in strengthening core muscles as well as the arms and legs. Exercises are performed while lying, sitting, standing, and from positions at the chair's side. Exercises to build stability and flexibility may be performed.
Do You Sweat During Pilates?
The intensity of your workout effort and your current physical condition will affect how much you may sweat during a pilates workout. However, Pilates is generally considered similar to a barre or yoga class in intensity. With a focus on intentional movement and form, many participants find that they do not get very sweaty during Pilates.
Is Pilates Good For Beginners?
Pilates can be modified to provide workouts that range from gentle to challenging. Beginners as well as those that already regularly work out can benefit from Pilates workouts. Beginners can start with easy Pilates movements and gradually increase their workout intensity as they progress. Increasing resistance using the magic circle or higher resistance bands will also provide a more intense workout.
What Type Of Pilates Is Right For You?
Your current fitness level will determine the type of Pilates best suited to you. As a beginner, start with mat pilates. Gaining knowledge and experience with the basics of pilates as you gain strength is the best way to start.
If you are already a regular exerciser, you may still want to start with mat Pilates to make sure you enjoy the workout, but you may want to try Reformer Pilates as a more intense workout option. Try taking a class to see if this interests you before making an investment in a home reformer.
Is Pilates Worth The Money?
Studio Pilates classes can be expensive to take regularly. However, home pilates can be done with a minimal equipment investment making it well worth the money. Some of the benefits you can expect from regular Pilates practice include improved posture, better body alignment, and increased core strength. Pilates is also helpful in recovering from injuries and preventing future injuries through increased strength and flexibility.
Pilates is an excellent exercise format for those seeking a gentle way to increase strength, flexibility, and alignment. Studio classes are an option for learning and perfecting your Pilates technique; however, the same benefits can be achieved at home with mat Pilates and simple props. If you love mat Pilates and are willing to invest in advanced equipment, a home reformer and Pilates chair may be just what you are looking for to take your Pilates to the next level.
Do you want to learn more about Pilates? Check out our articles "How Long Does It Take To See Results From Pilates" or "Is Pilates Considered Strength/Resistance Training" to learn even more about Pilates.