Pilates Equipment Buying Guide

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Pilates Equipment Buying Guide

As you begin your foray into the world of Pilates, you will find the cornerstone is certainly still the mat upon which this form of exercise was originally designed (and upon which many of your workout movements will unfold).

However, all of that stuff you’re learning – strengthening your core, building flexibility, increasing muscle strength and improving your alignment – well, they require an equally abundant variety of equipment. Fortunately, you’ve got a ton of options. The best part? You can literally start with just the accessory equipment and build from there. It doesn’t get any more compact or budget friendly than that!

Just Starting Out?

If you’ve never heard of Joseph Pilates (the founder of this school of fitness) or neutral spine position (sounds complicated, but it’s really just keeping your spine aligned according to your body’s natural shape), then your first piece of equipment might need to be as simple as a Pilates video. Whether you sign up for an online tutorial or purchase a DVD, it’s a good place to begin and your virtual teacher will help guide you toward making your first exercise equipment selections.

Need Equipment For Floor Exercises?

You need a mat no matter what level you’ve reached (beginners, included). This classic piece of equipment is easy to store, and you will most likely use it every single time you take part in your fitness routine. Mats are pretty simple. They offer varying levels of padding to keep you comfortable when doing floor exercises and roll up for easy storage (and good tote-ability if you attend classes).

Looking For Budget-Friendly Accessories To Work Your Core?

Sitting on the floor or a chair doesn’t require a great deal of balance. However, sitting on an inflatable ball and exercising? It takes a lot of coordination and balance, which means you’ll be engaging your core muscles quite a bit.

Go for an exercise ball when you’re focusing on floor exercises and machine-free workouts. These are also ideal if you’re just beginning. You can inflate and deflate them yourself; they are easy to store and tote; and they are budget-friendly (starting just under $10).

Looking For Accessory Equipment To Work Your Entire Body?

When you’re not quite ready to purchase pricier equipment or if you’re simply looking for supplemental resistance for floor workouts, a few extra accessories will help work your entire body without the high cost of studio equipment.

  • Rings: Flexible O-shaped material with foam handles – approximately 15 inches in diameter – help you achieve some resistance during isometric exercises. Translation: These rings will help you effectively hold poses when contracting targeted muscle groups.
  • Medicine Ball: This ball is weighted, improving the core and upper-body portion of your workout – ever tried doing a sit-up with extra weight in your hands?
  • Resistance Bands: Just like the machines that include resistance pulleys, these bands can be manipulated with your body alone to offer the resistance you need (without the cost). Bands are highly versatile, helping to condition and strengthen your entire body regardless of your experience level.

Looking For One Space-Saving Piece Of Equipment For A Complete Workout?

An at-home system that provides you with the equipment you need for optimal conditioning is a great idea! But … since you don’t live in a Pilates studio, buying every piece of equipment ever invented doesn’t really work. Consider space-saving options for the best of both worlds:

  • Reformer: This is your all-in-one at-home studio. It’s pricier than accessories (about $150 to several thousand dollars, depending on the system). However, a reformer typically includes a padded sliding carriage, straps, hand grips, tension cords, springs and pulleys on a metal and/or wood frame. This equipment is adjustable so you can achieve hundreds of positions and exercises – pretty versatile!
  • Wunda Chair: It’s fun to say, looks like it sounds (it’s a box-like chair that converts into different configurations) and is used to strengthen your lower midsection, also referred to as your “powerhouse,” including your lower abs and lower back.

Focused On Correcting Your Posture, Spine And Upper Body?

Spine barrel correctors resemble half of an old-fashioned keyhole (a circle atop a triangle) turned on its side. This padded piece of equipment is used for stretching the spine, opening the back, chest and torso to improve posture, alignment and flexibility.

Sure, you might feel like you’re learning a new language at first, both with your new body movements and the equipment you’re using. But once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll have the vocabulary and the muscle tone that makes the initial learning process worth it.  

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