If you’ve seen yummy mummies on TV using medieval-looking contraptions to do Pilates you might think you need lots of equipment to do Pilates at home. While that’s true for reformer Pilates, we’re talking mat Pilates here.
So what equipment do you really need to start mat Pilates at home?
Can you do mat Pilates at home without equipment?
The short answer is ‘yes’. The beauty of mat Pilates is its simplicity.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of lots of free space in our homes and the last thing we need is big pieces of exercise equipment cluttering up the place.
Also, as a beginner, you might not want to invest in equipment before you’re sure Pilates is for you.
The good news is that you don’t need to invest in any equipment to get started.
Pilates mat substitutes for at-home workouts
A yoga mat (if you have one) on top of a thick rug is good enough if you’re keen to start a home mat Pilates routine without buying any new equipment.
No yoga mat? Another option is a thick towel on top of a rug or carpeted floor.
Whatever you decide to use, the important thing is to make sure it provides enough cushioning to keep you comfortable when you’re on your back/side/knees while also being firm enough for you to balance on it.
Do I need a Pilates mat?
If you’re going to invest in any one piece of equipment I’d recommend — you guessed it — a mat!
Pilates mats are a bit thicker than yoga mats to help you stay comfortable as you’ll be spending more time on your back/side/knees.
Pilates mats range from around £20 at the low end to over £100 at the designer end of the market.
As a beginner, you probably don’t want to spend too much on a mat, but at the same time you want something that’s good enough quality to provide the cushioning you need.
I recommend a high-density foam mat around 1cm thick — like this one from Amazon: Core-Fitness 10mm Pilates mat.
Optional extra equipment for mat Pilates at home
A mat (or one of the substitutes recommended above) is really all you need to get started. But there are a couple of other bits of equipment that can help you feel more comfortable and enjoy your practice even more.
Water bottle for hydration
A bottle of water is a good idea to keep you hydrated. You can take a few sips from your bottle during class or go for a big slurp right at the end!
I really like my pastel green 500ml Chilly’s water bottle. It’s big enough to hold plenty of water to keep me hydrated but small enough to fit in my hands. I use mine all day long while I’m on the move.
Small towel to help with alignment and comfort
A small folded up hand towel can be useful during your workouts. You can use it to keep your neck aligned and comfortable when performing side-lying exercises. You can also place it behind your head when you are on your back, again to keep the neck aligned and comfortable.
Whether you need to use a towel or not will depend on your anatomy, so I’d recommend having one to hand so you have it ready if you need it.
Tip: a great substitute for a towel is a folded up sweatshirt.
The bottom line
You really don’t need any special equipment to get started with mat Pilates at home. As you progress you might want to add more equipment like resistance bands to increase the level of challenge, but as a beginner, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible.
So what are you waiting for? Roll out your rug (or mat) and let’s get started!