You love Pilates, and you’re ready to take the next step in your Pilates journey by setting up your dream at-home Pilates studio. Or, at least, you’re tickled by the idea. The main thing holding you back is, you’ve got some questions (understandably!). What do I actually need to get started? What equipment will suit me and my personal goals the best? Is it worth the investment? How do I know if I’m getting the right stuff? The long list of Pilates equipment feels daunting, confusing even, and might be keeping you from taking the leap. We’re here to smooth out the edges. Understanding what Pilates equipment is out there, and why you might want to add it to your Pilates practice, is easy. Here is your all-in-one guide to Pilates equipment, a Pilates Starter Kit for the ambitious home Pilates student.
Pilates Equipment: When Do You Need It? When Do You Want It?
The first question is, What do I actually need to get started? The simple answer is a Pilates mat. If you’re a true Pilates newbie, and just want to test out the waters, we’d recommend getting yourself a Pilates mat and signing up for John Garey TV for your at-home Pilates workouts. This simple Pilates equipment will protect your body from the harshness of the ground beneath you, as you stretch, bend, strengthen, and boost your body during class.
But once you’ve moved past the newbie phase, you might start looking towards other at-home studios with envy. Why do they have a Pilates chair, and should I have one? Trying to achieve the perfect balance between the must-have equipment, the pieces you just want, and the ones you want to save up for, can help you plan Pilates equipment for home that you truly will use and harness the benefits of. Nobody wants a room full of unused equipment!
So when do you need to begin investing in your Pilates equipment? The answer is when it feels right to you. Perhaps you’ve been taking John Garey beginner classes and are feeling ready for the next level. Well, most advanced classes incorporate Pilates equipment, ranging from the Pilates Reformer to the Pilates Chair. The investment allows you to continue to progress in the discipline while learning new techniques and skills.
Every piece of Pilates equipment has a different benefit, so pay close attention to each kind. This will help you decide what kinds of Pilates classes you want to sign up for, and which parts of the body you’d like to support with added gear.
Pilates Starter Kit: The Comprehensive Guide
Here we go! The Pilates Starter Kit Guide. Use this as your comprehensive guide to Pilates equipment for the home. And no, these are not torture devices, they’re the opposite! Hit your Pilates goals with this comprehensive Pilates Starter Kit.
THE PILATES REFORMER
Invented by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, the Pilates Reformer is the most comprehensive Pilates equipment to elevate your Pilates practice. The apparatus creates resistance to intensify every Pilates exercise, without compromising the low-impact benefits of the practice. If you’re looking for efficiency, the Pilates reformer can give you a full-body workout in under an hour without missing any muscles, hard-to-reach spots, or skimping out on the stretching.
Choosing to practice Pilates on a reformer can help you isolate precise core movements more effectively than on a mat. It’s best for people committed to improving their posture alignment and core strength. Due to its customizability, it’s a great option for anyone recovering from an injury.
There are a lot of options when it comes to Pilates Reformers, so we’ve filtered them all out with our favorite: the Allegro 2 Reformer. It doesn’t get much better than this new and improved machine.
THE PILATES CHAIR
Also known as the Stability Chair, or the Wunda Chair, this chair does wonders to help you add challenge to your workout without a Pilates Reformer. The chair contains strings and pedals that can be adjusted based on your desired difficulty level. If you’re wanting to strengthen and stretch muscle groups that are difficult to access on the mat, a Pilates chair could be a great investment.
We recommend the EXO® Chair from Balanced Body® (it’s what we use in John Garey workouts). This is the most compact and durable Pilates chair on the market. It’s also easy to store and move due to its small size and lightweight frame. Originally designed to fit in an NYC apartment, this Pilates chair is a great pick if you’ve got limited space!
BARRELS: LADDER, SPINE CORRECTOR, & ARC
There are three common Barrels used in Pilates, the Ladder Barrel (the largest), Spine Corrector (middle size), and Small or Arc Barrel (you guessed it, the smallest). We’ll explain the differences, don’t worry!
The Ladder Barrel is used primarily for abdominal, oblique, and spine muscles. It comprises a ladder-type structure for your hands or feet to rest on, paired with a (beer) barrel-type structure for the body to stretch against. The ladder barrel is a must-have for deep stretching.
The Spine Corrector is a less intense alternative, best for the less advanced Pilates student or someone recovering from injuries. The Spine Corrector is mainly used on the hip, spine, and abdominal strengthening and stretching.
The Arc is even smaller, with a focus on relieving back pain through comfort and stability.
There are many different kinds of exercise balls out there, so we’ll do our best to fill you in on the different types.
Large Swiss Balls and Small Stability Balls are affordable ways to intensify your core strengthening and stretch throughout the class. Due to the instability of the ball, the body is challenged to keep the ball stable throughout the exercise, which intensifies the exercise.
Toning Balls are balls filled with sand to be used as weights during Pilates exercises. They help tone the body by adding a little extra something. Available in 1 lb, 2 lbs, and 3 lbs options. We also recommend hand weights for that extra push.
Medicine Balls range from 2 to 30 lbs and are very helpful for intensifying strengthening postures.
THE PILATES CIRCLE
Also known as Pilates Rings, the Pilates Circle comes in multiple sizes: the regular and mini. While the regular is more versatile, allowing the user to insert their legs or arms for added resistance, the mini can allow for more reps of each exercise due to its small size. It can also be used to improve the alignment of the legs during class.
Also known as a Springboard, this Pilates equipment device can deliver you a full-body workout in the tiniest of spaces. Instead of resting on the floor, the Spring Wall connects to the wall, meaning yes, you can work out in your closet if you want.
Last but not least, we have the Tower, which attaches to the Pilates Reformer to make a Cadillac. No, not the car, but if you’ve ever seen the largest piece of Pilates equipment, the one that looks like a trapeze, the Tower helps you get there. The Cadillac allows you to do it all, even hanging up upside down and lifting yourself up! It’s your choice if you want the best of the best, of the best.
What Will You Use?
Now that we’ve gone over the Pilates essentials, it’s up to you to determine which equipment fits into your life and practice. Perhaps you start out with the cheaper options, such as the exercise balls, or the Arc, or maybe you jump right in with a Pilates chair or Pilates Reformer. Regardless of the equipment you choose, know that every single piece of home Pilates equipment in this guide has been expertly designed to help you achieve your Pilates goals. As always, consult with your doctor before you begin an exercise program, but once you’re cleared, we can’t wait to *see you* on the mat. Sign up for John Garey classes today!