Essential Equipment for Those Who Want to Take Up Pilates

What Pilates equipment do you need to get started right away? The answer is, absolutely none. As long as you have a large towel or mat, you can begin to reap the benefits of this wonderful, total body physical fitness method. But like any other exercise or sport, when you use equipment that has been designed to properly complement your efforts, you enjoy a safer experience and better results. Consider the following list as essential items you need to get the most from your Pilates practice.

Exercise mat

Many Pilates practitioners have a yoga mat. That is acceptable, but you really should look for a mat made specifically for Pilates. Choose a thicker mat. Traditional Pilates mats usually have more cushioning than their yoga counterparts.

Fitness Ball

Some Pilates movements are specifically meant to be performed with a fitness ball. There are miniature and “standard” sizes available. Need some help choosing the correct size? Check out this handy chart that does all the work for you. (Miniature fitness balls inflate up to 10 to 12 inches.)

Your Height Fitness Ball Size (maximum height/diameter)

4’8″ to 5’3″ 55 cm (21 inches)
5’3″ to 6’0″ 65 cm (25 inches)
6’0″ to 6’7″ 75 cm (29 inches)

Yoga blocks

As with every piece of Pilates equipment we show here, there are plenty of manufacturers and designs available. Just make sure you are ordering a pair rather than a single block.

Foam roller

An absolute essential for perfect Pilates practice, a sturdy foam roller helps you unwind and “iron out the wrinkles”. You may have to experiment before you get the right density for your body.

Resistance bands

Thera-Band offers a latex-free set of resistance bands that is very attractive financially. They work for your upper and lower body, and can be used to complement any physical fitness method. There are plenty of other resistance bands available. Thera-Band is just one manufacturer known for offering quality and value.

Body rolling Foot Wakers

Yamuna is a physical fitness company that makes what they call Foot Wakers. The texture and half sphere design are perfect for stimulating circulation and stretching out the kinks. Designed for use with your feet, they also offer the same wonderful benefits when applied to other parts of your body.

Half sphere cushions

Veteran Pilates practitioners swear by these simple gadgets which act as little pillows. Used to achieve and maintain proper cervical alignment when you do mat exercises on your back, they are affordable and absolutely irreplaceable.

Pilates ring

This is not required for beginning Pilates. But once you become familiar with the Pilates ring and use it on a regular basis, your results begin to amplify themselves.

A “free weight” set

Purchase a “free weight” dumbbell set. If just starting out, look for sets that include 2, 3 and 5 pound weights. If you are at the intermediate or advanced level of physical sickness, dumbbell sets which include 5, 10, 15 and 20 pound weights are best.

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