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Pilates Home Gym Setup

at home mat May 14, 2020

Can you get a good Pilates workout at home, if you don't have access to equipment? The Pilates apparatuses have a ton of benefits, but practicing at home gives you an awesome opportunity. Being alone with your body, a mat, and a few small props can give you different feedback and help you get in touch with your body.

For example, laying on the floor instead of the moving Reformer carriage might help you feel that your lumbar spine and pelvis are not staying stable as you move your legs. Perhaps, when you're no longer distracted by trying to keep the carriage home during Bridging on the Reformer, you might notice that you've been coming up too high and putting pressure on your neck. While we're all doing our part to keep socially distant, we can use this time wisely to dig deeper into our practice and come back to the studio with an even better understanding of our bodies. 

But - using just our body weight can make some exercises more difficult because we don't have the support that the equipment gives us. That's where a few well-chosen props can make all the difference.

Here's a list of props that will help you get even more out of your home practice, by making exercises either more comfortable or more challenging.

This list is in order of awesomeness and versatility. I'll explain each of them in more detail below.

  1. a Foam Roller ($20-$40)
  2. a Magic Circle ($18-$65)
  3. a Thera Band (~$15)
  4. a small inflatable ball ($12-$15)
  5. sliders (~$15)
  6. a yoga strap ($10-$15)
  7. two yoga blocks ($15-$30)
  8. hand weights (2x 1 lb, 2x 2 lb.)
  9. stability ball (~ $20)

The following pieces are a bit more expensive, but if you can afford them, then they will definitely get your home practice a significant boost:

  • Arc ($159)
  • C-Shaper (~ $300)
  • TRX ( ~ $200)

 

Let me explain the purpose of each of these in more detail.

Foam Roller

  • Use it for self-myofascial release to relieve muscle tension and tightness.
  • Lay on it length-wise to provide an unstable surface which will challenge your stability in supine exercises. This position also helps you feel what parts of your spine are heavy on the roller and which are light. This feedback can help improve your alignment.
  • Mimic your favorite equipment exercises like Swan on the Cadillac (roller under your hands) or Reverse Abdominals on Reformer (roller under knees). See more ideas here
  • Here's a list of foam roller exercises.
  • Check out my all-time favorite foam roller.

 

Magic Circle

  • Use it on the inside or outside of the knees or ankles to amp up your mat work. 
  • Increase strength and endurance in your upper body and core.
  • Place it on your sternum to improve your Push-Ups.
  • Varieties of pads, weight, and size give you tons of options. See my favorite Magic Circles here:

 

TheraBand

 

Small Inflatable Ball

  • The ball can help challenge your stability. For example, place it under your sacrum during your ab work and try to prevent any wobbling on the ball. 
  • Place the ball between your knees to help improve lower body tracking. 
  • Here's a list of exercises using a small ball.
  • Which one should you buy? Try these:
    • I like the Franklin Air Ball (9-inch diameter)
    • The Overball is a good and affordable option. (10-inch diameter)
    • TheraBand is a trusted brand as well, although to be honest, I have no first-hand experience with this ball. (9-inch diameter).

 

Sliding Mobility Disks

  • These disks are designed to glide smoothly over hard flooring and carpeting. 
  • Place under your hands or feet to challenge stability and strength.
  • Improve your balance for standing exercises. 
  • Get yours here.

 

Yoga Strap

 

Yoga Blocks

  • Yoga blocks can help you increase or decrease your range of motion in mat work, depending on what you need. 
  • Holding a block between your hands or ankles can provide resistance.
  • Here's a list of exercises using yoga blocks.
  • Buy your yoga blocks here: 
  • For exercises where you're standing on the block, you can easily substitute with a book.

 

Hand Weights

  • No hand weights? No problem! Easily substitute for soup cans, water bottles, or whatever else you can find around the house. 
  • Give your upper body an extra challenge during exercises like the Hundred and the Stomach Series.
  • Weights can assist your stretches. For example, try them with Arm Arcs or V to W on the Foam Roller. 

 

Stability Ball

  • Challenge your stability when you sit or lay on the ball. 
  • In Table Top exercises, the ball provides assistance if you rest your legs on top of it or resistance if you hold the ball between your legs. 
  • Make challenging exercises (like Front Control) even more difficult by placing your hands or feet on the ball. 
  • Open and stretch the front or the back of your body by draping yourself over the ball. 

 

Pilates Arc or Small Barrel

  • The Arc is incredibly light, weighing in at only 4 pounds, making it convenient to slide under a bed or place in a closet when not in use. 
  • Place it flat-side-down to practice your favorite spine corrector exercises at home.
  • Flip the Arc upside-down to challenge your balance.
  • Here are a few great options to choose from:

 

C-Shaper

  • The design helps you create a C-shape in your spine and it supports your spine in that C-Curve. 
  • It's a great way to build up to exercises like the stomach series. 
  • See my full review of the C-Shaper here.
  • Here are a couple I really like:

 

TRX

  • Yeah, this is not the real TRX, but it's my homemade version. Mounting it to the ceiling with rope takes some work, but it's totally worth it to be able to do TRX exercises at home. 
  • If you're missing your favorite pieces of equipment right now, you'll love being able to do Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, Breathing (the one on the Trapeze Table), Bridging and Teasers. 
  • See how I made it.

 

What do you have in your home gym? Are you planning on adding something? Let me know in the comments!

 

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