The Best Pilates Equipment of 2021

Reach your pilates goals with the best gear out there

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You can knock out a great Pilates workout with little to no equipment. But if you want to keep your workouts dynamic and challenging, proper equipment can help you reach the next level. “I love having an array of props at my disposal,” Club Pilates instructor, Tanya Rockovich, says. “From the Pilates reformer to the Wunda chair to the springboard, you have an opportunity for endless variety and challenges for all fitness levels.”

When stocking up on Pilates equipment, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First: How big is the item? Pilates equipment can range from portable to bulky. And you won’t want to snag anything you don’t have space for. You’ll also want to consider how durable an item is. (Is it sturdy enough to support you?) And you’ll want to think about how approachable it is, too. (Is the item appropriate for your skill level, and do you know how to use it?)

Once you’ve covered those bases, you can start thinking creatively. “As much as I love the traditional Pilates machines, I do feel that if you are versed in Pilates exercises and have a creative mind, you can use basic equipment to obtain very similar results,” Tracy Bauer, XPRO at Club Pilates GO, says. She notes that classic items—like resistance bands and sliding discs—can enhance your Pilates workouts if you’re willing to get creative.

There is a lot of Pilates equipment out there. So to figure out which categories of equipment were worth reviewing, we spoke to three Pilates instructors and asked them what items they’d recommend. Then, we looked for best-in-class options in each of those categories. We favored items that came from well-known brands (like AeroPilates and Balanced Body), as well as items that had been thoroughly well-reviewed by customers.

Here is some of the best Pilates equipment you can add to your home gym—according to Pilates instructors.

Our Top Picks
The reformer comes equipped with a sliding carriage, which can serve as the base for all your go-to reformer exercises.
Stamina’s AeroPilates Premier makes it easy to bring home a quality reformer without absolutely wrecking your budget.
The ring promises to maintain its springy strength over time, delivering reliably challenging workouts every time you use it.
It's thickness should help you comfortably tackle Pilates, while giving you the versatility to tackle yoga exercises, too.
Designed to support you as you tackle a range of strength-training exercises, it comes with a padded platform and padded cushion.
Resistance bands can be great tools for both stretching and strength-training, and these come in three different levels.
Best Sliding Discs:
Synergee Core Sliders at Amazon
Place your hands or feet on top of the discs during your go-to exercises to add a layer of core-strengthening to your workouts.
Pilates balls are versatile, budget-friendly, and space-efficient and this one is anti-burst, so it should never pop.
Merrithew’s Arc Barrel is lightweight, portable, and padded for comfort, making it a particularly great option.
Wearable weights—which you can wear on your wrists or ankles—can add an extra layer of strength-training to classic Pilates moves.

Best Reformer: Balanced Body Allegro Tower of Power for Workouts

Pros
  • Reformer and tower combo

  • Comes with range of accessories

  • Adjustable padding

  • Good for varied workouts

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Bulky

  • Not beginner-friendly

If you love Pilates and you feel ready to invest in your at-home set-up, a Pilates reformer can be a great buy. Reformers are large pieces of equipment you can use to tackle all kinds of strength-training exercises. And Balanced Body’s Allegro Tower of Power is one of the most splurge-worthy options around. (Bauer personally recommended the reformer, calling it “the best of the best.”)

The reformer comes equipped with a sliding carriage, which can serve as the base for all your go-to reformer exercises. And since that base is outfitted with adjustable shoulder pads and a three-position headrest, you can rest assured knowing you’ll stay cushioned and comfortable during your workouts. The reformer also boasts an extra-wide footbar, which you can adjust both horizontally and vertically to ensure your reformer fits just right—no matter your height.

What sets the Allegro Tower of Power apart, though, is its tower attachment. “This combo machine is great because it supports the exercise repertoire from both the reformer and Cadillac,” Bauer explains. “The exercises are endless. And as you become more familiar with the machine, you can begin to create your own exercises and flows using every inch of the tower.” To help you make the most of the tower, the reformer comes with a range of accessories: a push-through bar, a roll-down bar, and a set of loops. Combined, all these accessories—plus the tower and the sliding carriage—should enable you to tackle complex Pilates workouts from the comfort of your own home.

Quick Tip

Be sure you know how to properly use a reformer before splurging on one. “Best advice is to be trained properly at a studio or guided by a professional first before you use it,” Larisa Gerrard, Pilates and barre instructor, says.

Best Budget Reformer: Stamina AeroPilates Premier

Stamina AeroPilates Premier
Pros
  • Great value

  • Comes with range of accessories

  • Adjustable padding

  • Foldable for easy storage

Cons
  • Bulky (though foldable)

  • Not beginner-friendly

There’s no denying it: Pilates reformers can get expensive. But Stamina’s AeroPilates Premier makes it easy to bring home a quality reformer without absolutely wrecking your budget. 

The reformer boasts a sliding carriage, which you can use to tackle a range of classic Pilates exercises. And since that carriage is outfitted with foam shoulder pads and an adjustable headrest, it should keep you comfortable, whether you’re sitting or lying down. At the foot of the sliding carriage, you’ll find a springy rebounder, which you can use to make your workouts even more interesting. And if you’d prefer to keep things classic, don’t worry—you can always remove the rebounder and trade it with a standard footbar (which ships with your reformer), instead. 

These features should give you the basis for some great reformer workouts. And if you want to make things even more interesting, you can take advantage of some of the many accessories this reformer ships with. Buy the reformer, and you’ll receive a set of adjustable ropes, straps, and handgrips, as well as a set of stretchy resistance cords. For good measure, you’ll also receive two Pilates workout DVDs, which can help you get started with your brand new machine.

Best Ring: ProBody Pilates Ring

Probody Pilates Ring
Cons
  • Lightweight and portable

  • Durable and long-lasting

  • Padded

  • Can be used for strength-training, stretching, and more

Pros
  • Some quality control issues

  • Smaller than many Pilates rings

  • Resistance may not be intense enough for some

You can get a lot done with a Pilates ring—known by many as a “Magic Circle.” So it’s no surprise that two of the Pilates instructors we spoke to—Gerrard and Rockovich—recommended adding one to your collection. 

Now, there are plenty of great Pilates rings out there. But ProBody’s Pilates Ring is a particularly great option. Why? At 5.43 ounces, it’s lightweight enough to carry with you on the go. But since it’s crafted from durable composite material—and encased in a protective plastic laminate and soft foam cover—it should be sturdy enough to last you a while. The ring promises to maintain its springy strength over time, delivering reliably challenging workouts every time you use it.

To keep you comfortable, the ring comes equipped with padded handles, which you can grip with your palms, thighs, ankles, and more. Since the ring can be used during strength training, stretching, and balance training, it’s sure to become a go-to in your Pilates routine.

Best Mat: BalanceFrom GoYoga All-Purpose Yoga Mat

BalanceFrom Yoga Mat
Pros
  • Great for yoga and Pilates

  • Thick and comfortable

  • Large

  • Comes with a convenient carrying strap

Cons
  • May tear with use

  • May slip on slick floors

If you don’t have the space or budget for a reformer, rest assured knowing you’re not out of luck. There are two primary methods of Pilates, and reformer Pilates is just one of them. The other is mat Pilates. And all it requires is—you guessed it—a Pilates mat.

Though BalanceFrom’s GoYoga Exercise Mat is technically a yoga mat, it possesses many of the features you’d expect to find in a Pilates mat. The high-density foam mat is 0.5 inches thick. That makes it thicker than most standard yoga mats (which are typically 0.125 inches thick), and much closer in thickness to a Pilates mat (which are typically 0.375 to 0.5 inches thick). This added thickness should help you comfortably tackle mat Pilates exercises, while giving you the versatility you need to tackle yoga exercises, too.

At 71 inches long and 24 inches wide, the mat is also a little larger than your average yoga mat. And it should be big enough to comfortably accommodate people of many different heights. All this said, the mat is slip-resistant (like a yoga mat), rather than slick (like a Pilates mat). This feature may put off avid mat Pilates fans. But if you’d prefer not to own two separate mats for yoga and Pilates, it should be versatile enough to get the job done.

Best Chair: AeroPilates Precision Pilates Chair

AeroPilates Precision Pilates Chair
Pros
  • Space-efficient

  • Versatile and challenging

  • Padded

  • Anti-skid base

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Bulky (though smaller than a reformer)

  • Not beginner-friendly

If you’re looking for a piece of Pilates equipment that’s both challenging and space-efficient, Gerrard recommends investing in a Pilates chair. “I feel the Pilates Wunda Chair is definitely underrated and overlooked,” she says. “It’s known to be the most challenging piece of Pilates equipment.” According to Gerrard, you can use a Pilates chair to strengthen your arms and your legs, while also challenging your back and core. And since it’s the size of an average chair, it’ll demand way less space than a reformer.

As is the case with a lot of Pilates equipment, Pilates chairs can get expensive. But the AeroPilates Precision Pilates Chair offers solid quality without breaking the bank. The sturdy chair is designed to support you as you tackle a range of strength-training exercises. And its base is equipped with grippy end caps, which should keep the chair from slipping or sliding mid-workout. 

For boosted comfort, the chair is outfitted with a padded platform and padded cushion—as well as padded handlebars and pedals. And since both its height and handlebars are adjustable, it should comfortably suit you—no matter your height.

Best Bands: TheraBand Resistance Band Set

TheraBand - 20403 Resistance Band Set, Professional Latex Elastic Bands
Pros
  • Lightweight and portable

  • Small and space-efficient

  • Offers three different resistance levels

  • Can be used for strength-training, stretching, and more

Cons
  • May contain latex

  • May tear with use

  • Resistance may not be intense enough for some

Both Gerrard and Bauer recommend having some resistance bands on hand. Why? Resistance bands can be great tools for both stretching and strength training. And if you’re looking for a solid set, TheraBand’s Resistance Bands Set is sure to deliver.

The set comes with three resistance bands, each of which measures 5-feet long and 4-inches wide. To keep things interesting, the color-coded bands come in three different resistance levels. The yellow one should deliver 3 to 4.3 pounds of resistance, the red one should deliver 3.7 to 5.5 pounds of resistance, and the green one should deliver 4.6 to 6.7 pounds of resistance. And if 6.7 pounds of resistance simply doesn’t sound like enough, remember that you can always layer the bands to increase the resistance you’re encountering.

Unlike resistance loops, these bands are open-ended, meaning you can grip one end with each hand. This design should give you the flexibility to use the resistance bands in a few different ways, and it should allow you to shorten them whenever you see fit. (Simply wrap the band around your hand to shorten the total length of the band.)

Best Sliding Discs: Synergee Core Sliders

Synergee Core Sliders
Pros
  • Lightweight and portable

  • Small and space-efficient

  • Dual-sided design

  • Makes classic exercises more challenging

Cons
  • Will require some creativity

  • Foam side may tear with use

  • Not beginner-friendly

Compared to Pilates reformers and Wunda chairs, Synergee’s Core Sliders may look a little unassuming. But according to Bauer, if you’re willing to get creative, you can use sliding discs to level up many of your favorite exercises. 

Buy a set of Synergee Core Sliders, and you’ll receive two small sliding discs—each measuring 7.2 inches in diameter. The dual-sided discs are crafted from soft foam on one side and slick plastic on the other, so you can flip them over to adjust your experience on different kinds of floors. Synergee recommends pairing the soft foam side with slicker floors (think: hardwoods) to cut down on slipping. Likewise, the brand recommends pairing the slick plastic side with softer floors (think: carpets) to keep yourself challenged when you’d otherwise have too much traction. 

This clever design makes the sliding discs great for working out at home—or for bringing with you on the go. Simply place your hands or feet on top of the discs during your go-to exercises to add a layer of core strengthening to all your workouts.

Best Ball: URBNFit Mini Pilates Ball

URBNFit Mini Pilates Ball
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Durable and anti-burst

  • Withstands up to 600 pounds of pressure

  • Makes classic exercises more challenging

Cons
  • May be hard to inflate

  • May need to be re-inflated between workouts

All three of the instructors we spoke to—Gerrard, Rockovich, and Bauer—recommended snagging a Pilates ball. Their reasoning? Pilates balls are versatile, budget-friendly, and space-efficient. So they can be a great way to level up your at-home Pilates workouts. And if you’re looking for a classic Pilates ball, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with URBNFit’s Mini Pilates Ball. 

The ball is crafted from durable PVC. And since it’s inflatable, it should feel a little like a balance ball. The only difference? URBNFit’s Mini Pilates Ball is about the size of a medicine ball, so it should be small enough to place between your ankles, below your hands, or underneath your back during workouts. 

The ball is designed to withstand up to 600 pounds of pressure at a time. And since it’s anti-burst, it should never pop underneath you. Instead, it should gradually deflate—a feature that should keep you from getting an unsettling surprise mid-workout.

Best Arc Barrel: Stott Pilates Merrithew Arc Barrel

Stott Pilates Merrithew Arc Barrel
Pros
  • Durable and sturdy

  • Lightweight and portable

  • Available in ten upholstery patterns

  • Can be used for strength-training, stretching, and more

Cons
  • No weight capacity provided

  • Bulky (though smaller than a reformer)

  • Expensive

Arc barrels offer a classic way to stretch and strength-train during a Pilates session. The small piece of equipment is shaped like a half-cylinder, giving you a flat surface to rest on the ground, a mat, or a cadillac, and an arched surface to explore during your Pilates workouts. 

There are several great arc barrels out there, but since Merrithew’s Arc Barrel is lightweight, portable, and padded for comfort, it’s a particularly great option. The arc barrel is cushioned with soft EVA foam, so it should keep you comfortable as you stretch and exercise. And since it’s designed to be used on a cadillac or a Pilates mat, it should stay securely in place as you move around.

Though the Arc Barrel will demand more space than some of the other items in this shopping guide, it’s still a pretty small piece of equipment. The arc barrel is 23.5 inches long, 22.5 inches wide, and 6 inches tall (at its highest point). So it shouldn’t be terribly hard to make room for in your space. And since it weighs a mere 8 pounds, it should be easy to bring with you on the go, too.

Best Ankle Weights: Gaiam Fitness Ankle Weights

Gaiam Fitness Ankle Weights
Pros
  • Wearable and convenient

  • Comfortable

  • Secure

  • Available in two weights

Cons
  • May tear with use

  • May grow discolored with use

  • Size isn’t very adjustable

Looking for a way to build even more strength during your Pilates workouts? Consider strapping on a pair of wearable weights. Wearable weights—which can be worn on your wrists or ankles—add an extra layer of strength training to classic Pilates moves, making exercises you’ve mastered feel challenging again. And since wearable weights abound, you can snag a set that’s exactly as heavy (or lightweight) as you want.

One great option? Gaiam’s Ankle Weights. The weights are crafted from mesh and neoprene, so they should feel pretty comfortable. And they come lined with Velcro strips, which can help to fasten them tightly around your ankles. Once fastened, the weights should stay firmly in place—meaning they shouldn’t slide around as you exercise. 

The ankle straps are sold in pairs, and they’re currently available in two different weights. Start with a beginner-friendly 5-pound set (made up of two 2.5-pound weights), or go all-in on a 10-pound set (made up of two 5-pound weights). Either way, you’ll end up with a convenient way to make your favorite Pilates workouts even more challenging.

Best Socks: Toesox Bellarina Half-Toe Grip Socks

Toesox Bellarina Half-Toe Grip Socks
Pros
  • Lined with grippy dots for traction

  • Toeless design

  • Soft and stretchy

  • Available in three standard sizes

Cons
  • Only available in one color

  • Fairly expensive for socks

Socks aren’t a must during Pilates. But if you want to wear them—and if you don’t want to start slipping and sliding all over the place—it may be worth it to invest in a pair of grip socks. Grip socks look and feel a lot like normal socks, but their soles are lined with grippy dots. These dots lend the socks traction, helping you stay on your feet and in control whenever you wear them.

Toesox’s Bellarina Half-Toe Grip Socks boast this classic grip dot detail. But they take the traction another step further: The socks are toeless. Each sock comes equipped with five small holes, which you can slide your toes through to expose them. This exposure makes it even easier to maintain balance and control as you work out. And since the socks are designed to hug the base of each toe, they should stay firmly in place as you move around. 

The socks are crafted from a blend of soft cotton and stretchy spandex, so they should keep you comfortable during your workouts. And they’re currently available in three standard sizes: small, medium, and large.

Best Springboard: Balanced Body Pilates Springboard

Balanced Body Springboard
Pros
  • Space-efficient

  • Versatile and challenging

  • Comes with range of accessories

  • Easy to customize

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Large (though not particularly bulky)

  • Not beginner-friendly

When stocking up on advanced Pilates equipment, reformers are a popular pick. But according to Rockovich, springboards can be just as useful. “Everyone loves the reformer,” Rockovich says. “But the springboard offers a ton of creativity and really challenges our balance and helps us build functional stability.”

Often, you’ll see a springboard attached to a reformer. But with Balanced Body’s Pilates Springboard, you can score the springboard and forgo the reformer—saving space in the process. The large board measures 72 inches tall and 20 inches wide, and it mounts directly onto your wall to free up floor space. Lining both sides of the board, you’ll find a series of hooks. These hooks can attach to all kinds of classic Pilates accessories—like springs, roll-down bars, and more—giving you plenty of options, as you go to craft dynamic Pilates workouts.

Because stocking up on equipment can get tedious, the Pilates Springboard ships with a few accessories to get you started. Buy the springboard, and you’ll also receive two standard springs, two long springs, two loops, two handles, and a roll-down bar. The set also includes all the hardware you’ll need to hook up these accessories. And the springboard comes with a built-in footbar you can use to anchor yourself during springboard exercises.

Best Workout DVD: Chalene Johnson's PiYo Base Kit

Chalene Johnson's PiYo Base Kit
Pros
  • Comes with ten workouts

  • Ships with useful accessories

  • 30-minute routines

  • Blends Pilates with yoga

Cons
  • May be more than you want to spend on a Pilates DVD

  • No classic Pilates workouts

If you’re in the market for a Pilates workout DVD, you’ll have a lot of great options to choose from. But Chalene Johnson’s PiYo Base Kit isn’t your average Pilates DVD, and that’s exactly why it earned our Best Workout DVD spot. 

For starters, the PiYo Base Kit isn’t one workout DVD containing a single workout. It’s a full-blown workout program—complete with ten different workouts, which you can watch across three different DVDs. (And rest assured knowing you’re not getting short-changed on workout time—each workout is 30 minutes long.) This variety should be enough to keep you going for a while. And since the DVDs ship alongside a quick start guide and a workout calendar, you won’t have to do much work to keep things interesting. Instead, you can simply follow the calendar—and let it keep your routine varied and fun.

The other thing that sets the PiYo Base Kit apart? It isn’t strictly focused on Pilates. PiYo is a portmanteau of Pilates and yoga, so you can expect to gain a foundation in both disciplines—while building strength and working up a sweat, of course.

Final Verdict

There’s lots of great Pilates equipment out there. But if you’re looking for a classic way to upgrade your home gym, consider investing in Balanced Body’s Allegro Tower of Power (view at Amazon). The feature-packed reformer comes with a sliding carriage and a built-in tower. And it’s outfitted with a range of attachable accessories—like a push-through bar, a roll-down bar, and a set of loops—which can be used to keep your workouts varied and dynamic.

Of course, when it comes to Pilates equipment, a reformer isn’t your only option. ProBody’s Pilates Ring (view at Amazon) is a classic piece of equipment you can take with you on the go. TheraBand’s Resistance Bands (view at Amazon) are great for building strength, whether you’re tackling a Pilates workout or logging a cross-training session. And Synergee’s Core Sliders (view at Amazon) offer a space-efficient way to mimic some of your favorite reformer exercises. Even better: All these items are pretty budget-friendly, so you can stock your home gym without breaking the bank.

What to Look for in Pilates Equipment

Size

Pilates equipment comes in many different sizes. Some Pilates equipment is small, lightweight, and inherently pretty portable. (Think: Pilates balls and Pilates rings.) And other Pilates equipment is just the opposite. (Think: Wunda chairs and reformers.) When shopping, consider how much space you’re willing to spare. Then, invest in an equipment set-up that suits your home. 

Durability

It’s always a good idea to invest in durable fitness equipment. But when you’re shopping for something you plan to sit, balance, or exercise on, durability becomes even more vital. So if you have your sights set on a reformer, Wunda chair, or springboard, be careful to invest in something that’s genuinely sturdy. Keep an eye out for solid materials (like steel and wood), and pay attention to the piece’s weight capacity. 

Approachability

Some pieces of Pilates equipment are more advanced than others. Start by stocking up on pieces you know how to use. Then, let your practice expand from there. If you feel ready to tackle a challenge, consider visiting your local Pilates studio and getting acquainted with some new equipment. Once you’re confident using the more advanced stuff, you can consider snagging a version for your home gym.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you do Pilates without equipment?

    You can do Pilates with no equipment at all. But you’ll probably want a mat to keep you comfortable as you exercise. “Pilates is a workout for everybody, everywhere,” Rockovich says. “All you need is a cushy mat to protect your joints.” She notes that mat Pilates exercises are “some of the most challenging” around. So you can log a pretty intense Pilates workout, even if all you have is a mat.

  • What is the difference between yoga and Pilates?

    Yoga and Pilates are two completely different styles of exercise. Yes, both are forms of low-impact exercise. And both can help you build strength, gain flexibility, and improve your balance. But in yoga, you’ll find an emphasis on breathwork, meditation, and flowing through postures. Whereas in Pilates, you’ll see more of a focus on stability and on smaller, repetitive movements.

  • Is Pilates strength training?

    Pilates is a form of low-impact strength training. “A proper Pilates class is designed to work the whole body,” Gerrard says. “The main focus though is on your ‘powerhouse,’ also known as your core.” These muscles include your abdominals, as well as the muscles in your lower back. “We work in a block system so we cover the whole body—including big and small muscle groups,” Gerrard explains. She adds that in a typical Pilates class, you can expect to work your abs, your hips, your back, your arms, and your legs.

  • What do I wear while doing Pilates?

    Not sure what to wear to a Pilates class? Stick with something that’s form-fitting but flexible. After all, you’ll want to be able to move around comfortably. “Form-fitting athletic wear is a must,” Rockovich says. “Not only do you not want loose clothes bothering you, but wearing form-fitting clothes is crucial for the instructor to help cue form.” If the instructor can’t see your body, they can’t see whether you’re maintaining proper form.

  • What are the benefits of Pilates?

    Pilates has many wonderful benefits,” Gerrard says. She notes that Pilates can help you build strength, gain flexibility, improve your posture, and maintain proper balance. “Pilates teaches you to move with ease and grace,” she says, adding that Pilates may also help you boost your energy, cut down on stress, and become more aware of your body.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

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