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Pilates Equipment

Last Updated: June 29, 2021

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Explore a diverse range of Pilates equipment to enhance one’s workout experience. Uncover some of the essential Pilates tools on the market, from reformers mats to rollers and more!

What is Pilates Equipment?

There is an extensive range of Pilates equipment on the market today. Some pieces include reformer boxes, Pilates sticks, rollers, and chairs. 

After mastering the fundamental Pilates movements practiced on a mat, individuals can apply these same exercises using additional equipment to intensify or adapt their workouts for greater versatility.

Pilates props and equipment serve diverse purposes in different scenarios. For instance, studios often utilize Pilates reformers as a primary piece of equipment.

Alternatively, many Pilates instructors specialize in mat-based Pilates, primarily requiring a mat and a few optional props. 

These props might include a foam roller, Pilates ring, and specialized Pilates socks for better grip during mat exercises.

Pilates and yoga utilize mats in their practices but differ in the type of mat used due to variations in their movements. Yoga employs thin mats, whereas Pilates opts for softer, thicker, longer, and wider mats.

This wider mat accommodates the different ages and levels of the individuals who work using the Pilates method, helping make it suitable for everyone. 

The thicker mat makes it more comfortable to do different exercises such as roll-ups and positioning on hands and knees in four-point.

Seven Types of Pilates Equipment

Reformer

The founding instructor of Pilates, Joseph Pilates, invented the Pilates reformers.

A Pilates reformer features a mobile platform or carriage with padded handles, ropes, and springs to offer variable resistance. 

Some models include an adjustable headrest. One can use them independently or with accessories such as a reformer box, vertical frame, or jump board for added versatility. 

These innovative machines have since become a cornerstone of the Pilates method, enhancing the full-body workout experience.

Pilates Mat

A thick, soft mat used for Pilates workouts. They protect the body and the floor to increase comfort and safety during a mat class.

Cadillacs (Also Known as a Trapeze Table)

A Pilates Cadillac is a fixed apparatus comprising a table with an attached tower frame. 

The tower houses various equipment, including bars, bands, and pulleys, providing versatile resistance and support for different Pilates exercises to enhance strength, flexibility, and overall body conditioning.

Barrels 

Barrels in Pilates refer to padded, curved surfaces that aid spine support, elongation, and overall body strengthening. 

They may feature an optional ladder attachment, offering a versatile platform for various exercises that promote better posture, flexibility, and core strength.

Magic Circle

Magic Circle is a small, flexible ring-shaped tool to add resistance and enhance core strength and muscle toning during Pilates exercises.

Pilates Ball

A Pilates ball, or an exercise or stability ball, is an inflatable, versatile fitness tool that adds instability to exercises, engaging core muscles for balance and strengthening. 

Pilates Balls also aids in improving flexibility, posture, and overall body strength.

Spine Correctors

Spine correctors are specialized equipment designed to improve posture, flexibility, and core strength. 

Spine correctors are shaped like an arch, they support various exercises that promote spinal alignment and mobility, making them valuable tools for enhancing overall body health and alignment.

Other Equipment

Other Pilates equipment includes stability chairs, barres, halo trainers, resistance bands, reformer boxes, rollers, Pilates sticks, ankle weights, and foam rollers.

Pilates equipment is used to both increase and decrease the difficulty of Pilates movements. It allows the Pilates practice to be suitable for all ages and abilities.

The different equipment and accessories can assist in several ways, including helping with balance, providing feedback (tactile, visual, and proprioceptive), increasing an individual's confidence, and making an exercise more comfortable or safer.

How Much Equipment is Needed?

The equipment required for Pilates training depends on several factors, such as the individual's ability, skill, and fitness levels, the difficulty level of the Pilates exercises, and the type of Pilates class. 

Some equipment can make the process of Pilates easier, and some props can provide more of a challenge. 

For an individual to decide what pieces of Pilates equipment are appropriate for them, they must first determine what their goals are.

For example, purchasing a reformer and additional props, such as reformer boxes, may be best if the goals are to exercise vigorously and lose extra weight. 

These can help enhance the workout to work towards that goal.

If someone has the goal of starting a Pilates practice and is a complete beginner, they would consider purchasing a Pilates mat and some Pilates socks to mitigate slipping. 

Lastly, one must consider their Pilates attire, such as leggings, a comfortable top, or a sports bra. 

Comfortable clothing is vital for any exercise, including Pilates workouts, and should always be considered an essential prop for your Pilates session.

Is There a Most Important Piece of Equipment?

A Pilates reformer is a classic equipment for those serious about the Pilates method.

The Pilates reformer is an excellent machine with a mobile platform or carriage with adjustable springs attached.

The springs add resistance, similar to a cable machine with weights attached. It also has straps and a foot bar to do different exercises in a controlled manner for a full-body workout, including muscles of the arms, core, and legs.

Options such as a platform extender are available for taller individuals.

Exercises performed on reformers can replicate those on a mat, offering the same benefits. However, working on a reformer often adds difficulty and balance challenges because the moving platform alters the proprioceptive aspect of the exercise, demanding more than the stable mat.

Pilates reformers come in a wide price range, from high-end, professional-grade models to more affordable ones suitable for personal use in a home gym.

Reformers from companies like Stott Pilates and Balanced Body are usually found at a studio due to their higher price point, while a mini reformer from Pilates Power Gym is often bought for home use.

If just starting, an individual could consider purchasing a less expensive model with good reviews. If they end up liking reformer work, they can always upgrade.

The best Pilates reformer is the one that fits the individual's needs, which means one that fits their budget as well as any other features required to help them meet their goals.

When using a reformer at home, especially when someone is new to operating a reformer or the Pilates method, an instructor must guide the workout to help decrease the risk of injury and help with better posture and alignment while doing exercises.

A Pilates reformer is one of many options available; many different Pilates equipment pieces can significantly help someone's practice. Likely, the most important of these would be the Pilates mat.

Having a Pilates mat at home allows one to practice any mat practice, including numerous core exercises to improve core strength and other bodyweight movements. It can also be used in yoga and other fitness programs as well.

Why is Pilates Equipment Important?

Different equipment is key for both studio and home workouts. A piece of equipment can adjust a Pilates exercise based on the goal of the fitness practice to deliver results.

It can help enhance or modify exercises to find the right level of difficulty or the proper resistance for an individual by increasing or decreasing the challenge of the exercise.

Individuals may use Pilates props and equipment for many different reasons:

  • Increased challenge: Want to make specific exercises more of a challenge? Try augmenting body positions and movements and testing the body's balance with Pilates props.
  • Exercise augmentation: To make challenging Pilates exercises easier. While props can certainly add complexity and resistance, they can also make movements slower and easier if modifications are needed due to the level of ability or injury. Props are pretty useful for pregnant women, for example.
  • Injury prevention: Some exercises are too much of a stretch for the body's muscles. It is always better to stay cautious and use any necessary equipment to prevent injuries.
  • Added variety: Using props and trying new equipment can help keep Pilates workouts interesting, help with motivation, and assist with continuing to practice Pilates.

Pilates Equipment for Pre and Post-Natal Pilates

Pilates workouts are beneficial for individuals pre and post-natal. During pregnancy, a common side effect is back pain due to changes in the body, affecting posture.

Equipment that helps support the body and focuses on postural alignment, such as a spine corrector, may be appropriate to use during pregnancy and after giving birth. 

Pilates equipment has padding, such as a padded cushion, and can be adjusted in numerous ways to help increase support and comfort.

This inclusivity makes Pilates suitable for individuals of all levels, but having a certified Pilates instructor can reduce the risk of injury and ensure that exercise modifications are available when necessary.

Pilates Equipment for Specific Conditions and Injuries

A Pilates fitness workout can be safe and beneficial for those with hip or knee replacements and those with injuries due to sports, day-to-day activity, or even chronic pain.

A Pilates workout can be modified or adjusted to meet the individual's needs. Using Pilates equipment can make an exercise safer or protect someone from further injury or future injury. This can be done at home or in a studio with a certified Pilates instructor.

Many different pieces of Pilates equipment can be incorporated during a fitness workout, such as a Pilates ball, a magic circle, a foam roller, ankle weights, a reformer, or an arc barrel. The best Pilates equipment is chosen specifically for an individual by a certified Pilates instructor.

Movements can be modified or enhanced by using different equipment. A stability ball can decrease the difficulty of an exercise, while a reformer can increase the difficulty due to its moving surface.

One can modify certain movements by simply changing one's body position or by actively engaging different muscles, like incorporating a resistance band around one's legs while doing a bridge sequence.

When doing a fitness workout on a mat, kneeling moves are less difficult than standing moves due to increased stability.

Similar adjustments can be made during reformer Pilates. An example would be dropping down to the elbows when performing bird dog in reformer Pilates instead of supporting the upper body on the hands.

Frequently Asked Questions Pilates Equipment

What Kind of Pilates Equipment is Required to Practice?

Whether the Pilates method is practiced at home with a digital subscription, one-on-one with a teacher, or in a studio with others, purchasing at least a few Pilates props is ideal.

Aside from Pilates reformers, which are undoubtedly the most popular type of equipment for Pilates, consider purchasing additional props such as foam rollers, Pilates socks for grip, a magic circle, resistance bands, and a Pilates chair. 

Is a Reformer a Necessity?

A Pilates reformer are not necessarily required to start a Pilates practice. It all depends on an individual's fitness goals, their comfort level with various types of equipment, what types of classes they are taking, and their budget. 

A reformer's benefits can also be achieved by practicing on a mat.

Owning a Pilates reformer for home fitness is viable, but mat classes can also be practiced at home. In this case, a Pilates reformer is unnecessary; the only prop required is a mat. Both workouts will provide similar benefits. 

Is Pilates Equipment Expensive?

As with many fitness props, a lot or very little can be spent on equipment to get the best Pilates workout. The most expensive type of Pilates equipment is the reformer.

Pilates reformers are easily more than $1000 and sometimes many thousands of dollars more (like some Balanced Body reformer options).

If buying a reformer for home use, look for a balance between quality and cost, as reformers are an investment. 

What is the Best Pilates Equipment?

For serious Pilates enthusiasts, having a Pilates reformer is key.

Certainly, a Pilates reformer isn't a requirement. You can still perform Pilates workouts at home using just a mat and the guidance of a certified instructor.

A Pilates instructor can help ensure proper form is being used. 

Consider adding props like mats, weights, balls, rings, and foam rollers to enhance a Pilates workout. Most bands and weights come in varying resistances to meet the needs of the individual. 

References

Does a Program of Pilates Improve Chronic Non-Specific Low Back Pain? in

Defining Pilates exercise: A systematic review - ScienceDirect

Pilates: What Is It? Should It Be Used in Rehabilitation? - Christine E. Di Lorenzo, 2011

Pilates: how does it work and who needs it? - PMC

Introduction to Pilates-Based Rehabilitation

The Pilates method: history and philosophy - Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies

Effects of Pilates Training on Lumbo-Pelvic Stability and Flexibility - PMC

Joseph Pilates - Wikipedia

Pilates - Wikipedia

Is Pilates as Good as Everyone Says? - The New York Times

Disclaimer

The contents of this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any health-related changes or if you have any questions or concerns about your health. Anahana is not liable for any errors, omissions, or consequences that may occur from using the information provided.

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