Which Pilates equipment is best?
While you can practice Pilates at home with a mat, it’s not the only piece of equipment worth having. If you’d like to expand into more diverse or complex exercises, consider investing in a few more pieces of Pilates equipment.
Besides classic Pilates equipment like rings, many people incorporate free weights, stretch bands or mini exercise balls into their practice. If you’re ready to invest in a premium piece of Pilates equipment, our top choice is Stamina Products AeroPilates Premier Reformer.
What to know before you buy Pilates equipment
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a full-body workout that builds strength and flexibility through low-impact exercises. It’s practiced either on the floor with a mat, or on a machine called a Reformer. Pilates is suitable for individuals of all fitness levels, ranging from beginners to professional athletes.
Pilates exercises are paced and controlled to help practitioners gain more control over their body movement. According to Mayo Clinic, Pilates may also improve core strength, posture and symptoms of back pain. Additionally, many people derive therapeutic benefits — mental and physical — from practicing Pilates.
Popular types of Pilates equipment
While the most common Pilates equipment includes rings and Reformers, there are a few more types of equipment that are used during practice.
- Free weights and ankle weights, namely those that are one or two pounds, are often manipulated to add light resistance.
- Stretch bands, which introduce resistance, are often incorporated into basic stretching and reaching exercises to make them more challenging.
- Mini exercise balls help improve upper body strength when used during certain Pilates exercises. They’re soft and lightweight, making them easy to manipulate in a multitude of ways.
- Some people use large exercise balls to perform modified Pilates exercises, including planks and stability exercises.
- Pilates DVDs or online tutorials guide practitioners through workouts. Many of these videos feature celebrity fitness instructors.
What to look for in quality Pilates equipment
Level of difficulty
Pilates equipment falls into two categories: it either helps practitioners work toward more difficult exercises, or it makes basic exercises more challenging. Many types of Pilates equipment actually do both.
A Pilates ring, for example, can help you reach your toes more easily if you need assistance bending and stretching. Conversely, a Pilates ring makes certain leg exercises more intense when it’s used for resistance or controlled movements.
Pilates is largely a practice of control and balance, and it’s no surprise that Pilates equipment should have stable construction. Unfortunately, faulty equipment may impact your practice, or worse, result in injury.
The best-quality Pilates equipment has secure components that hold up well to heavy handling and pressure. Equipment like rings and weights should be well-balanced, while larger equipment like Reformers should be wobble-free. Mini and large exercise balls should be well-reinforced with reliable seals so they don’t puncture or leak air.
Most Pilates equipment has smooth, rounded edges to prevent injury. Many types of free weights, for example, have seamless designs and are covered in soft materials like silicone, neoprene or rubber. Several Pilates rings have metal components; however, they won’t have sharp edges or exposed components that may hurt practitioners or catch on clothing.
How much you can expect to spend on Pilates equipment
Entry-level Pilates rings, mats and free weights cost $25 and below. If you’re looking for studio-quality equipment, be prepared to spend between $30-$100 per piece. The most expensive equipment, Pilates Reformers, cost between $300-$3,000.
Pilates equipment FAQ
What is the difference between Pilates and yoga mats?
A. Yoga mats are usually around 4-6 millimeter thick, though some are slightly thicker. Pilates mats, on the other hand, are usually half an inch in thickness. Pilates mats offer more cushioning and support. However, if you’re standing on a Pilates mat for balancing exercises, its soft construction may introduce a higher level of difficulty.
How do I clean Pilates equipment?
A. There are several yoga and Pilates mat cleaners available as well as fitness equipment cleaners and disinfectant wipes. Some Pilates practitioners prefer cleaning their mats with gentle, natural solutions, such as a diluted mixture of vinegar and water with a couple of drops of essential oil.
What’s the best Pilates equipment to buy?
Top Pilates equipment
What you need to know: Popular among intermediate practitioners, this Pilates reformer machine is ideal for home use.
What you’ll love: The reformer has a tall bungee rebounder that is suitable for more complex exercises. It has an adjustable headrest with a supportive pillow to promote optimal alignment during exercises. The machine comes with DVD exercise videos and a wall chart.
What you should consider: A few buyers reported the machine is challenging to assemble and has a loud operation.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top Pilates equipment for the money
What you need to know: A classic Pilates tool, this studio-quality ring has the ideal amount of flexibility so practitioners can experiment with different exercises.
What you’ll love: The travel-friendly ring measures 14 inches and comes with a carrying case. It has contoured handles with nonslip pads that stay put between legs and with arms. The ring is covered with soft material and has rounded edges for comfortable use.
What you should consider: There are occasional reports that indicate the ring may warp with frequent use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This pair of wrist and ankle weights add a slight amount of resistance to workouts for Pilates practitioners seeking more of a challenge.
What you’ll love: The weights have a cuff design that hugs wrists and ankles and stays secure during movement. They’re wrapped in soft silicone that won’t irritate sensitive skin. The pair is considered well-balanced compared to other wrist and ankle weights.
What you should consider: The weights may arrive with an industrial smell, so they need to air out before use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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