Which Pilates equipment is best?

While you can practice Pilates at home with a mat, it’s not the only piece of equipment worth having. If you’d like to expand into more diverse or complex exercises, consider investing in a few more pieces of Pilates equipment. 

Besides classic Pilates equipment like rings, many people incorporate free weights, stretch bands or mini exercise balls into their practice. If you’re ready to invest in a premium piece of Pilates equipment, the best is the Stamina Products AeroPilates Premier Reformer.

What to know before you buy Pilates equipment

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a full-body workout that builds strength and flexibility through low-impact exercises. It’s practiced either on the floor with a mat, or on a machine called a reformer. Pilates is suitable for people of all fitness levels, from beginners to professional athletes. 

Pilates exercises are paced and controlled to help practitioners gain more control over their body movement. According to the Mayo Clinic, Pilates may also improve core strength, posture and symptoms of back pain. Additionally, many people derive therapeutic benefits, both mental and physical, from practicing Pilates. 

Popular types of Pilates equipment

While the most common Pilates equipment includes rings and reformers, there are a few more types of equipment that are used during practice.

  • Free weights and ankle weights of 1 or 2 pounds are often manipulated to add light resistance. 
  • Stretch bands, which introduce resistance, are often incorporated into basic stretching and reaching exercises to make them more challenging.  
  • Mini exercise balls help improve upper body strength when used during certain Pilates exercises. They’re soft and lightweight, making them easy to manipulate in a multitude of ways.
  • Large exercise balls are used by some people to perform modified Pilates exercises, including planks and stability exercises.
  • Pilates DVDs or online tutorials guide practitioners through workouts. Many of these videos feature celebrity fitness instructors. 

What to look for in quality Pilates equipment

Level of difficulty

Pilates equipment falls into two categories: it either helps practitioners work toward more difficult exercises, or it makes basic exercises more challenging. Many types of Pilates equipment do both. 

A Pilates ring, for example, can help you reach your toes more easily if you need assistance bending and stretching. Conversely, a Pilates ring makes certain leg exercises more intense when it’s used for resistance or controlled movements. 

Stable construction

Pilates is largely a practice of control and balance, and it’s no surprise that Pilates equipment should have stable construction. Unfortunately, faulty equipment may affect your practice, or worse, result in injury.

The best-quality Pilates equipment has secure components that hold up well to heavy handling and pressure. Equipment like rings and weights should be well-balanced, while larger equipment like reformers should be wobble-free. Mini and large exercise balls should be well-reinforced with reliable seals so they don’t puncture or leak air. 

Smooth edges

Most Pilates equipment has smooth, rounded edges to prevent injury. Many types of free weights, for example, have seamless designs and are covered in soft materials like silicone, neoprene or rubber. Several Pilates rings have metal components; however, they don’t have sharp edges or exposed components that may hurt practitioners or catch on clothing. 

How much you can expect to spend on Pilates equipment

Entry-level Pilates rings, mats and free weights cost $25 and below. If you’re looking for studio-quality equipment, be prepared to spend between $30-$100 per piece. The most expensive pieces, reformers, cost $300-$3,000. 

Pilates equipment FAQ

What’s the difference between Pilates and yoga mats?

A. Yoga mats are usually around 4 to 6 millimeters thick, though some are slightly thicker. Pilates mats are usually half an inch, or more than twice as thick. Pilates mats offer more cushioning and support, and if you’re standing on one for balancing exercises, its soft construction may introduce a higher level of difficulty. 

How do I clean Pilates equipment?

A. There are several yoga and Pilates mat cleaners available as well as fitness equipment cleaners and disinfectant wipes. Some Pilates practitioners prefer cleaning their mats with gentle, natural solutions, such as a diluted mixture of vinegar and water with a couple of drops of essential oil.  

What’s the best Pilates equipment to buy?

Top Pilates equipment

Stamina Products AeroPilates Premier Reformer

Stamina Products AeroPilates Premier Reformer

What you need to know: Popular among intermediate practitioners, this Pilates reformer is ideal for home use. 

What you’ll love: It has a tall bungee rebounder suitable for complex exercises and an adjustable headrest with a supportive pillow to promote optimal alignment during exercises. It comes with DVD exercise videos and a wall chart. 

What you should consider: A few buyers said it’s challenging to assemble and loud when operating. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Pilates equipment for the money

ProBody Pilates Ring

ProBody Pilates Ring

What you need to know: A classic Pilates tool, this studio-quality ring has the ideal amount of flexibility so practitioners can experiment with different exercises. 

What you’ll love: This travel-friendly ring measures 14 inches and comes with a carrying case. It has contoured handles with nonslip pads that stay put between legs and with arms. The ring is covered with soft material and has rounded edges for comfortable use. 

What you should consider: There are occasional reports that the ring may warp with frequent use. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Tosamc Durable Wrist Weights

Tosamc Durable Wrist Weights

What you need to know: This pair of wrist and ankle weights add a slight amount of resistance to workouts for Pilates practitioners seeking more of a challenge. 

What you’ll love: The weights have a cuff design that hugs wrists and ankles and stays secure during movement. They’re wrapped in soft silicone that won’t irritate sensitive skin. The pair is well-balanced compared to other wrist and ankle weights. 

What you should consider: The weights may arrive with an industrial smell, so they need to air out before use. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.