What is Pilates Fitness Equipment?

Pilates fitness equipment ranges from the extravagant machines to the simple ball and mat, find out what to look for before you buy.

Once you've been to a few pilates classes, and you decide you want to continue pilates in your home, then you'll need some pilates fitness equipment.

Pilates Mat and Ball

It's best to start off with just you, your mat and a quality pilates DVD. There are literally hundreds of mat pilates exercises, which should keep you going.
Click here for a guide on pilates exercise mats and other exercise fitness mats.

After a while you may want some variation to your pilates exercises. The next logical step would be to get a pilates ball, which is basically a stability ball.

Many of the mat exercises can be adapted to use on the ball to give your abs an even better workout. There are books and DVD's available for specific pilates exercises on the ball.

Pilates Resistance Bands

These are known as Therabands in physiotherapy, but they are essentially the same thing. A band of mainly latex that will stretch as you exercise. They add resistance to your movement, making your body work harder to perform it smoothly.

The great thing about resistance bands is that they have so many simple and easy uses. They go hand-in-hand with the ideals of pilates, of toning muscle rather than bulk.

As well as uses in pilates, you can make up your own home resistance band circuit training plan. Just by stepping on the band and holding each end in your hands, you could do bicep curls, lateral and bent over rows, lunges and squats, to name a few!

There are so many exercises available, and the bands are cheap and easy to store, it's great! They come in different strengths, some are harder to stretch than others, and are usually colour coded to indicate this. Make sure you check the colour codes as some manufacturers differ.

Pilates Circles

These work on the same idea as bands, to provide extra resistance in your pilates exercises. They are basically just a circle of very flexible plastic or steel, with padded handles for comfort.

There are a number of different exercises that you can do with pilates circles. Although they are more expensive and not as versatile as resistance bands, they do prove useful in isolating certain muscle groups and developing co-ordination.

They also come in a range of different resistance strengths and different sizes, depending on your needs.

Pilates Reformer

This is the most popular machine in the pilates fitness equipment range. It does look kinda scary at first, but once you get going it is actually very effective. It's made up of a sliding seat on rails with a system of springs that you pull.

There are many exercises that you can do on the reformer, I think its best feature is improving your posture. The fact that you're exercising on a moving platform works your core body that much harder.

I would recommend that you go to a class or instructor that is familiar with the reformer, and learn the correct techniques, before you go and buy one.

The very best reformers are very expensive. If you are serious about pilates and serious about regularly using your reformer, then I would suggest investing in a top range model. I would be slightly wary about very cheap ones, generally you'll get what you pay for.

Other Pilates Fitness Equipment

There are less well known pieces of equipment, but they do all serve many different purposes, depending on your pilates needs:

  • Pilates cadillac (trapeze table).. mainly used in therapy, due to its range of specific springs, levers and bars, you should only use it with an instructor.

  • Pilates barrel.. you can use this arch shaped barrel with your mat workout to help safely stretch your spine.

  • Pilates spine supporter.. this is a half C shaped equipment that will help support your spine (neck, shoulders and lower back) during mat exercise.

  • Pilates chair.. this is another piece of equipment with a good range of possible exercises, also used for rehab purposes.

    Buying Tips

  • Be sure you really want it. Don't go straight from a pilates class to buying an expensive reformer. Try the resistance bands, circle and ball first, to see if you stay motivated. Most people get what they want out of pilates with just mat work.

  • Know what you are buying, whatever pilates fitness equipment it may be. Research several different sites to get an idea of a good price and what's on offer.

  • If you have been to a class, then ask your instructor for any advice on the equipment you want.

  • Whether you are shopping online or in a store, make sure you know the return policy and the length of the warranty. Especially if you are buying a top range reformer, for example.

  • Make sure you have enough space in your home for the equipment.

  • Keep all the documents that come with your equipment in a safe place. They should contain instructions on maintenance, which you will need to do to make sure you get the most out of it.

  • Final Word

    Pilates fitness equipment can be an expensive hobby. So if it just a hobby for you then I'd say stick to the mat work, with maybe a ball and resistance band or circle.

    But if you are serious about pilates, or you're just lucky enough to have the money to spare (!!), then the other more expensive machines will be a great addition to making your very own home pilates studio.

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