Bianca Salonga, a Forbes magazine contributor who writes articles about style, design, and beauty, compiled and wrote this in-depth review on the best home Pilates equipment. Keep reading to find out what equipment to incorporate in your daily workout schedule for excellent results.
Pilates one-on-one sessions don’t come cheap. Group classes are a little less expensive although I find that they don’t yield as much progress as focused or customized workouts. After a few years of practice, having an at-home Pilates studio—albeit very mini and very makeshift—has become somewhat of a practical and economical option. While I am still a staunch believer in working with coaches or trained instructors, having Pilates equipment at home helps complement and sustain progress.
During busy weeks when my schedule won’t allow for a quick studio workout, I’m still able to squeeze in a few minutes of exercise just before starting the day. All I need is a trusty mat, a few cups of coffee, and some of my favorite Pilates gear. While I am far from being an expert or even an advanced student, videos on YouTube have been very helpful in guiding my workouts at home. Coaches are also very generous when it comes to giving “homework.” I remember when I bought my first Pilates gear, my trainer told me to start with a mat and a foam roller. He then gave me five exercises to help improve posture, balance and strengthen my core.
Here is a helpful guide to help you build your very own at home Pilates studio:
For Pilates workouts, a thicker cushion works best, especially when doing floor work, like planks. This mat from Fitness Mad is 15mm thicker than most models in the market today, giving extra support and comfort, especially for the back and palms. Since I don’t have a proper studio space at home, I’m also able to roll it up and store it with ease. A ribbed surface ensures stability and grip especially for sequences where balance is the focus.
There are certain exercises in Pilates that may require added support, and this is when a comfortable bolster comes in handy. Personally, I like having them around especially during core strengthening exercises (like oblique twists), which tend to hurt the back. This standard bolster from Hugger Mugger is firm enough so that you are able to stay in good form. The flat-top shape also provides added stability and handles on both ends make it more mobile.
Although an exercise ball is not a piece of equipment exclusive to the practice of Pilates, I find it very useful when I am up for major core work. The exercise ball challenges balance so your muscles are forced to engage and stabilize the entire body. Where Pilates is concerned, the exercise ball is best used when doing spine stretches, planks, hundreds, and for the super-advanced, a couple of roll-ups. This exercise ball from URBNFit is gym-grade and can hold up to a ton. I love that it already comes with a dual-action inflation pump, air stoppers, and workout guides.
If you’re looking to level up your workouts, then a mini stability ball is for you. The use of such a ball helps to activate the muscles that we often don’t get to utilize during regular workouts. It is most helpful for targeting arms, abdomen, buns, and thighs. They are also great for alignment and good posture. Stott Pilates Mini Pilates Balls are also ideal because they’re lightweight and can be inflated according to your desired firmness.
These flexible bands are the simplest yet most efficient gear you can have in your at-home Pilates studio. I like to integrate these into my exercises when I feel the need for added resistance or when I want to challenge the range of motion. The non-latex bands come in colors that correspond to resistance levels. There are countless exercises and therapeutic movements that you can do using TheraBands. What’s more, they are so lightweight and easy to pack that you can bring them when you travel.
Also known as the Magic Circle, these seemingly very ordinary accessories do wonders for improving balance. It also gives you just the right amount of resistance so that muscles not often activated get a good working as well. Rings from Pro Body Pilates measure 14 inches and are crafted using high-grade plastic laminate and soft foam covers. Padded grips are ergonomically designed to allow for easy and comfortable handling.
Exercises done on the Pilates chair do wonders for sculpting the body. A few minutes on the chair and you will immediately feel the burn. This Pro Chair from Life’s a Beach features two adjustable spring resistance settings. Split step pedals are useful for working on both legs and arms. They even work for planks. Seats, pedals, and hand grips are padded for ultimate comfort. What makes this ideal for building your own studio is that folds flat so that you can store it with ease. The Pilates Chair also comes with four workout DVDs that you can follow.
Foam rollers are used for various mat exercises and thus is the second thing to add to your workout equipment—after a mat. It helps to keep the proper alignment of the body. When doing core exercises, I usually use foam rollers to add challenge to my workouts and improve my sense of balance. SPRI Foam rollers remain in perfect shape even after countless uses. Having a medium-density roller like this one is also great for giving your tired muscles the kneading it needs.
Some of my best stretches and chest opening exercises were done on the Pilates Ladder Barrel. It has also been my preferred piece of equipment for working on obliques. Because exercises done on the ladder barrel require absolute stability, I tend to favor one crafted from high-quality wood. This one from Pilates Equipment Fitness was made using pine wood. It is padded and upholstered using fine leather and features adjustable knobs for customizing specs.
There are countless exercises that you can do on a reformer. My first few Pilates sessions were done on a reformer bed, and it was the convenience and efficiency of the device that got me hooked. It was only much later in my practice before my coach decided to teach me sequences on the Cadillac. I found this more exciting and challenging. Think inversions and splits while suspended midair. A reformer bed and a full Cadillac will work only if you have enough space—and funds—for both. However, if it’s a home studio that you’re looking to build, then a half Cadillac is absolutely brilliant.
The Precision Series Reformer with Optional Cadillac from AeroPilates features four levels of spring resistance, a padded foot bar, and cardio rebounders as well as a wider platform. It also comes with hand and foot straps as well as adjustable headrests and shoulder pads. Cadillac features that take your workouts to the next level include roll-down bars, arm and leg springs, and push-through bars.