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pilates equipment

The 10 Best Pilates Props to Upgrade Your At-Home Workout

Create your ultimate Pilates sanctuary with all of the tools you need.

By Kristine ThomasonApril 26, 2023

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Pilates is one of those strength-building workouts you can technically do anytime, anywhere. The recipe can be pretty simple: All you need is a sprinkle of time, a dash of motivation, and perhaps a virtual class from the Peloton App (might we recommend the lively Pop Punk routine or a 2000s-themed workout). 

However, as with any type of fitness, there are ways to level up your practice with some strategic equipment. Namely, Pilates equipment.

“Props offer versatility to Pilates movements,” says Peloton instructor Aditi Shah. “They can be used to help with form and make exercises more accessible and effective, or props can be used to create an extra challenge.” 

Whether you're looking to add resistance or assist with modifications, there are fantastic props for all abilities. To help narrow down the options, we’ve rounded up some of the best Pilates equipment to enhance your at-home practice. 

1. Workout Mat

First and foremost, a high-quality mat can do wonders to enhance your classes. While it’s fine to move through a routine on your carpet, a workout mat offers an extra layer of comfort and support. That added cushion can really come in handy, especially for mitigating any pain or discomfort in your knees and forearms, as you flow through certain movements. Some mats can also help provide additional grip, to help you hold poses and postures without slipping. Our Reversible Workout Mat, for instance, gives the choice of an ultra-grippy surface on one side and a softer finish on the other. 

2. Grip Socks

Speaking of additional grip—one of the most simple (yet highly effective) ways to support your Pilates practice is with a pair of sticky socks. This unique fitness footwear features anti-slip grip on the sole, which keeps your feet from sliding while you move through strength-building moves, whether you’re exercising at home or in a studio. Wearing a pair, like these Peloton grip socks, provides extra stability and helps make the workout safer overall.

3. Yoga Blocks

yoga block in pilates class

Similar to in yoga, a cork or foam block can be a versatile tool during Pilates. For instance, a block can assist with modifications, making certain movements more accessible depending on your flexibility. What’s more, Shah explains, “sitting up on a block, instead of on the mat, can often help us find a neutral pelvis and longer lower back,” which are ideal for proper alignment and form.

You can also use this prop to add an additional challenge to your classes. “Squeezing a block between the legs or overhead may require more strength,” says Shah. The possibilities are nearly endless with this seemingly simple prop. 

4. Pilates Ball

When you think about an exercise ball, you may imagine those large inflatable spheres that everyone swapped for their desk chair in the early aughts. While that piece of fitness equipment—known as a stability or balance ball—can certainly be useful, a Pilates ball is much smaller and serves a different purpose.

This petite prop can certainly pack a big punch. It’s great for adding extra tension—for instance, place it between your knees, thighs, or ankles to activate those inner leg muscles. It can also come in handy to create some instability during your workout, which helps light up those deep core muscles and improve balance. What’s more, you’ll often see instructors suggest placing a Pilates ball beneath your back, which can help take pressure off your spine during certain movements. 

5. Pilates Ring

Often referred to as a “magic circle”, this prop is an integral part of any Pilates toolkit. This rubber ring is flexible enough to bend, while still firm enough to provide moderate resistance. It has soft pads on opposite sides, to provide cushion when you push outward or press against it with your hands, ankles, thighs—whichever body part you’re challenging. It’s often used to add tension to various Pilates exercises, but it can also be helpful for promoting optimal alignment and posture with the body.

6. Sliders

Sliders or gliders make an appearance in all types of fitness genres, and Pilates is no exception. These come in a variety of forms: thin fabric circles, plastic discs with a foam base, or even reversible oval options. In any case, “using these props requires the body to stabilize more, which is definitely a whole body response, but also translates to a more core work,” says Shah. While they can’t fully replicate a Pilates reformer, sliders can serve as a stand-in with some movement — such as pikes, reverse lunges, planks, and more — by creating the same type of instability and gliding motion. 

7. Sweat Towels

towels as sliders

If you don’t feel the need to invest in sliders, a simple sweat towel (like this one you’ll see in plenty of Peloton Pilates workouts) can be a fantastic alternative. Just like a glider, “a towel under the feet in plank will require more stabilizing through the body,” says Shah. And when you’re not using them to make moves more challenging, they’re also great for wiping your perspiring forehead or providing an extra layer between sweaty hands and mat. 

8. Yoga Strap

hero-img-how-to-use-yoga-strap

A yoga strap can be a fantastic tool for supporting alignment, flexibility, and mobility. It can help improve your range of motion during a number of exercises or stretches (think: wrapped around your feet during seated forward folds, supine hamstring stretches, etc.) This option from the Peloton Apparel store is made of a tightly woven nylon strap, with a durable metal loop that makes it seamless to adjust as needed. Another great thing about this Pilates prop: It’s totally portable, and a great option for enhancing your practice while you’re on the go. 

9. Resistance Band

Another travel-friendly Pilates prop: resistance bands. If you’re ready to add a little extra challenge to your practice, mini bands, exercise loops, or resistance bands are a great option. These seemingly simple bands can really enhance your strength-building goals, by creating additional resistance and also activating a broader range of muscles while you use them. These bands can also be useful for keeping your form in check, and promoting proper alignment in the body (think: maintaining ideal knee distance during a squat). So whether you’re using them to upgrade clamshells or make bicep curls a bit more challenging, resistance bands are a fantastic addition to your home gym. 

10. Ankle Weights

For yet another way to support your strength-building goals, reach for some ankle weights. This compact piece of Pilates equipment generally weighs between one and five pounds and wraps around your body like a piece of oversized jewelry. Despite what the name suggests, you can also strap these weights on your wrists or hands for an extra challenge during an arm series. 

Ready to upgrade your Pilates practice? Consider adding one of these staple props to your library of at-home exercise equipment.

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