Pilates, made popular by celebrities for its long, lean and toned bodies has become the fitness regime of choice. Pilates is for everybody regardless of gender, age, size, or current fitness level. Whether your pregnant, undergoing rehabilitation from an injury or a professional athlete, Pilates as a methodology has benefits that has a positive effect on mental health and improves quality or life.
Looking after your wellbeing is essential in living a healthy and fit lifestyle. As we age the need to take care of ourselves becomes more focused and the journey to discover what works best for our bodies is paramount. We need to be mindful that strenuous, high impact fitness can be wearing on the joints and muscles. Our balance, range of flexibility and strength can be impaired due to lack of use, so it’s important to find a fitness regime that keeps us fit, and will continue to allow us to maintain the lifestyle that we have grown to love – the answer then is Pilates
Initially Pilates practice used to be conducted in boutique studios. Since Covid the need for maintaining Pilates practice in the home has risen exponentially. The ability to purchase, hire or organise a payment plan for a Pilates Reformer or other Pilates equipment has been made easier by manufacturers and suppliers.
The development of online studios has also grown providing a plethora of choices for the consumer to connect with an instructor that caters to their needs. But is doing Pilates at home the right option for you?? How do you make the right choices around Pilates equipment and online services?
Why do Pilates at home?
With a repertoire of over 600 exercises and variations Pilates can be performed on a mat, Reformer, Wunda chair, Cadillac or with props. The beneficial by-products of doing continuous Pilates practice include:
- Increase in core strength
- Improves Posture
- Improves Flexibility and mobility
- Improves cognitive functioning
- Increases Strength
- Improves balance
- Increases energy levels
- Decreases stress and anxiety
- Aids in the prevention of injuries
The trend to transition from a studio to your home has many benefits and limitations which can be seen in Table 1. This table highlights the pros and cons of doing Pilates at home only. Pilates performed in the home only is good for:
- shift workers whose rosters change frequently and getting to the studio can be difficult.
- Mothers with small babies or toddlers whose schedule is constantly changing.
- Those who do not have any pre-existing conditions, are in relatively good health and want to have a low impact, high intensity workout
- Those who want to start off slow to see if it right for them.
- Those who want to work out without going out
However, studio owners are noticing a shift of individuals who are doing Pilates at home to help compliment what you do in the studio with your experienced instructor. Many clients enjoy how they feel at the end of their studio session. Consequently, after consultation with their instructor or health professions they then choose to purchase either small props or a Pilates Reformer so that after their 1 session per week with their instructor they can then do 3 – 4 more sessions at home building up their strength and technique to help them recover faster and improve their overall wellbeing.
Online streaming is cost effective
Instruction for your particular body is limited with set workouts.
24-hour access to classes
Can cause injury if not performed correctly
No structured timetable
Not suitable for those with injuries or pathologies
Can be done with no equipment
No feedback on your technique
Compliments what is done in studio
Must be self-motivated.
No social interaction or support
Basic set up for Pilates at home
Pilates at home is an effective workout option, where the amount of equipment needed to really up to the individual. It can be done with no equipment (although a mat is recommended) or with some small props or even with lots of Pilates equipment like a Pilates Reformer or Wunda Chair.
To get started you need some space in which to do your exercises. A small area of about 2m in length and about as wide as your arms and legs can reach is all you will need to get started.
Pick a location that makes you feel comfortable, has plenty of light and where you won’t disturb the rest of the household with the instructor’s voice. Wear comfortable clothing that will allow you to move freely through the movements.
To begin with choose a day/s and time that works for you and try to consistently do your Pilates practice on this day/s and time. Start with small time intervals like 15-30 minutes and build towards the 45-60 minute workout.
Remember that exercise gives you energy so even though you may feel like you are fatigued at your designated day and time still push yourself to do your Pilates practice as you will definitely feel better afterwards.
If you are on a budget, there is no need to worry. Many online workouts use household items like chairs, cans (as weights), cushions and towels (for resistance). Alternatively you can purchase small props specifically designed for Pilates like a Pilates ring, soft weights, resistance band and grip socks which are compact and affordable.
However, to get the most out of your Pilates experience you may wish to consider a Pilates Reformer.
Having a Pilates Reformer at home
The next progression in your Pilates journey should be the consideration of a Pilates Reformer. Designed by the founder Joseph Pilates in the 1900’s the Pilates Reformer has evolved over time due to scientific enhancements.
The Pilates Reformer will take your Pilates practice to the next level. It is designed with a bed and springs which provide support to the client and also resistance during the workout, which can help you to either modify or progress the exercises in the repertoire.
The ability to buy, rent or hire a Pilates Reformer means that you get the benefits of a studio in your home. The many options means that having a Pilates Reformer in the home environment is affordable even for those on a budget who wish to invest in their health and wellbeing.
When choosing your space in which to place your Pilates Equipment be sure to check the dimensions of the Pilates Reformer you wish to purchase so that it will fit comfortably. A true Pilates Reformer should be a minimum of 2.4m in length and 70cm wide. You will also need your space to have some extra width for your arms and legs to extend to the side of the machine.
Foldable vs Non-Foldable Pilates Reformers
Pilates Reformers come in both foldable and non-foldable options. This means that even the space conscious consumer can have a Pilates Reformer in their home.
There are many suppliers of foldable Pilates Reformers, hence, comprehensive research is needed to find out what model will work best for you and your home. Why not start with this article on the benefits of a foldable vs non-foldable Reformer.
Choosing a Pilates Reformer
There are 5 simple things that you need to consider when choosing your Pilates Reformer.
- Can it take your height and weight?
A Pilates Reformer is actually a machine with moving parts. Consequently, the height and weight of an individual needs to be taken into consideration as the load carried by the machine needs to be distributed evenly according to the height and weight of the user. Always check the specifications for Pilates Reformers and make sure that it can accommodate your height and weight. You do not want to feel cramped on the carriage bed when doing your Pilates.
Make sure that when the carriage is still and you lay on your back with your feet are on the foot bar, there is a 90-degree angle from your hip to your knee. This is the optimal angle for good core engagement when doing footwork and is the gauge used by instructors to set the machine up correctly for clients.
- Who will be using it?
Are you the only one in the household who will be getting on the Pilates Reformer?? If not, then the height and weight of all individuals needs to be considered and your choice of machine should be based on the points raised above.
- Are you looking to regularly move or store your Pilates Reformer?
Do you need to fold it or stand it on a regular basis? Will the Reformer have a dedicated space where it will stay uninterrupted? Will the Reformer be in a space where it only needs to be moved occasionally?
By answering these questions, you will be able to decide what features your Pilates Reformer needs to accommodate the space in your home.
If you are still unsure then you may wish to look at our comparison page to help you compare models and sizes for your particular space. Alternatively, you can organise to have a 1:1 consultation about your needs. Contact our expert team who can happily help you at any stage.
- How high do I need the Pilates Reformer to be.
Some Reformers are a fixed height. Others come with extension legs to raise the Reformer off the ground.
How high you need the Reformer will depend on your body’s ability (or others in the household’s ability) to get up and down off the ground. Most Reformers range in height from 23cm to 44cm. The higher off the ground the Reformer is the easier it is to get on and off the machine.
- Will I need accessories for my practice?
A Pilates Reformer workout can be done on the Reformer alone or with Reformer accessories. You can customise your practice with the addition of a sitting box, jump board, plank handles or half trapeze. It is recommended to have a sitting box as a minimum accessory for a Pilates Reformer.
Alternatively, you could just you the small props (i.e. Pilates ring, resistance bands, soft weights) you purchased at the beginning of your practice to enhance your workouts.
All accessories can be added later to your Pilates workout if you are unsure to begin with. However, if you know what you are after, look for the option to bundle your purchase as this will save you money.
Maintenance and Customer Service
You’ve made the decision to invest in a Pilates Reformer. You’ve done your research and picked the model and make of the Pilates Reformer that you think fits your requirements. The last decision to make is will the manufacturer or supplier that you have purchased from provide the warranty and maintenance schedule that you require.
A basic care package for your Pilates Reformer involves you wiping down your Reformer with a water dampened microfibre cloth after each use. Use this to wipe the carriage, shoulder pads, and runners. This will keep the machine free of dust and hair and prevent bacteria and odours from developing.
If you require a more sanitary option then we recommend using Pilates Gym wipes. These are designed specifically for Pilates equipment and should be used similarly to the damp microfibre cloth. Do not use alcohol based wipes like baby wipes or essential oil mixtures like eucalyptus or lavender oils mixed with water as these products deteriorate your upholstery and plastic components.
If your Reformer is not being used regularly then cover the machine with an old sheet or beach towel to keep is safe and clean.
The minimum warranty period in Australia for products is 12 months on moving parts. Do not choose equipment that has not been tested and warrantied appropriately. Align Pilates Reformers carry the highest warranty period of any home Reformer on the market. This is because the Align Pilates Reformers carry out vigorous worldwide standardized testing (called ISO standards) to guarantee longevity and superiority of its products. Look for the appropriate trademark symbols to make sure you are getting what you pay for.
FREE Pilates workouts to try at home
With our home workout videos you can replicate your Mat or Pilates Reformer studio workout in the comfort of your own home.
Pilates Reformers Australia have provided some great FREE Reformer workouts that will get you started on your health and wellbeing journey.
- No matter what model of Pilates Reformer you have, our Pilates Reformers Australia home workout videos will certainly work the core and progress you on the Pilates path.
- Start with our Beginners Level 1 Online Video to help you move through the basics of Beginner Reformer Pilates.
- Progress to a variety of Intermediate workouts which will help you build your repertoire and test your skills on the Pilates Reformer.
- If you are looking to spice up your workout using other Pilates accessories or small props then why not try the:
- Cardio workout (which makes use of the jump board),
- Box workout (which challenges you on the sitting box), or
- Rotational workout (which provides that much needed rotation of the spine to keep it healthy and strong)
At Pilates Reformers Australia, we believe that virtually everyone can benefit from doing Pilates at home. Our team of experts has helped people of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels find the right reformer and accessories to take their Pilates practice to the next level. Take a look at our Pilates Reformer comparison chart or reach out to us today with any questions you may have about Pilates Reformers.
For more resources on how to take your at home Pilates workout to the next level, checkout this article from Porch about what's new in the world of at home fitness