If you’re looking for the best Pilates equipment for home workouts, don’t worry: We’re not going to say you absolutely have to invest in expensive equipment like a reformer or Cadillac. At Boom Pilates, we’re focused on making every practice—at home or in the studio—as accessible as possible. Whether you’re working out at home or in our St. Louis Pilates studio with us, there are a few essential (and much more affordable) props and pieces of equipment that will enhance and elevate your practice. You might even recognize a few of these props and additions from classes in the Boom Pilates studio, so don’t be intimidated.
If you plan to do Pilates at home, you’ll likely be doing mat Pilates, unless you plan on dropping $5,000 on a reformer for your basement (though we’re not discouraging that—that is how Boom Pilates started, after all). Mat Pilates routines are what you’ll find on our Boom Pilates YouTube channel or in our virtual Zoom classes. While they’re not a complete replacement for reformer or other studio equipment classes, mat Pilates routines are a great way to keep your body conditioned and practice Pilates fundamentals, and investing in a good Pilates mat is one thing that’ll give you a good foundation for your practice.
We probably don’t have to tell you this, but investing in good workout wear will definitely enhance your practice. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive pair of performance leggings or tank top, just pieces that are durable, reliable, comfortable and will let you move comfortably while giving you the support you need.
Pilates socks are something we recommend to every Pilates fan. Pilates socks, or yoga socks, are low-cut socks with non-slip grips on the base. They come in different variations, some with straps, toe cutouts, laces, or even more structured shoe-like designs. We recommend Pilates socks in the studio and at home, because whether you’re working out on a machine, the floor or a mat, Pilates socks provide essential traction to help ground your feet while absorbing sweat (which can also contribute to a more slippery surface) and can even provide light support while you move through your practice. Regardless of how you use them or where you wear them, Pilates socks are an essential investment in your Pilates practice.
Exercise Bands or Straps
Exercise bands and straps can be utilized in a few different ways in your Pilates practice. In the studio or at home, exercise bands (which are large elastic bands) are used to either provide resistance or support when performing different moves or stretches. Different band elasticities can provide different levels of resistance or allow you to gently move deeper into a stretch. Straps, on the other hand, refer to props that are typically not elastic. These can also be used to assist in stretching.
Occasionally a Pilates practice will call for the use of small hand weights. In the studio, we typically use 2 pound or 5 pound weights to enhance our practice. You don’t need to go heavier than these; we’re not pumping iron. These hand weights are used to augment certain moves in your Pilates practice to add some small (but certainly not insignificant) weight to up the difficulty level.
A support pillow can, as the name suggests, provide you with a little extra support during your mat Pilates practice. A pillow might be called for during your practice to help support your back, head, neck, or other portion of your body as you execute certain moves, lifting you gently off your mat or providing a soft supportive cushion. While not an essential piece for every practice or practitioner, if you plan to do mat Pilates regularly in your home, having a dedicated pillow for your practice can be a nice addition.
Stability or Exercise Ball
Large exercise balls like the kind you typically see don’t really come into use during Pilates practice, though they can be great tools to use on their own to support core work and other exercises that will support and enhance your Pilates practice. Smaller, softer stability balls, however, you might have seen or used in the studio with us. These versatile balls can enhance certain moves in your practice, giving you a little extra lift or cushion (similar to a Pilates pillow, but with a little extra stability), helping you activate muscles and angles you might not otherwise be able to achieve in a standard mat practice. These little guys are great for helping you target your arms, abs, glutes and thighs, and many of the balls can be inflated or deflated to give you different firmness or resistance levels.
Pilates Ring (or Magic Circle)
Investing in your own Pilates ring is for the serious at-home Pilates devotee. A Pilates ring (or magic circle, as it’s often called) is a great tool for adding resistance to your practice. You might be familiar with these rings and how we incorporate them into reformer practice at the studio. Like many of the other props here, a Pilates ring can help you target and engage specific muscle groups during certain moves, providing added resistance and support to make moves more challenging or engaging. Pilates rings are typically very affordable, and they’re lightweight and slim, so they don’t take up a lot of space, so they can be a great serious piece of equipment to add to your at-home practice.
While all of these pieces of equipment make great investments, you don’t have to buy all of these props to get the best Pilates workout at home. You can always swap in what you have lying around the house: a towel instead of a mat, some water bottles or cans for hand weights, a piece of fabric like a scarf (or even an old pair of leggings) for a band or strap, a small throw pillow instead of a support pillow. Regardless of what props or pieces you have, the most essential and best Pilates equipment for home workouts is having the motivation and attitude to move your body through another challenging practice!