The best Pilates accessories for your fitness journey

Here’s everything you need to know about Pilates before you attend your first class.

Pilates

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

If you are on the hunt for the best Pilates accessories, you have come to the right place. Pilates is a type of exercise developed by a German physical trainer called Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. It is a dynamic workout that involves movement practices that work on your body's strength, mobility, balance, coordination, flexibility and breathwork. If you are looking to get started on a new fitness venture we have a guide to Pilates for beginners to help you on your way.

Differing from yoga, Pilates is a flow of movements that helps to focus on core strength. There are different types of ways that you can practice Pilates and Pilates can also help you lose weight. You can either book a private one-on-one session, head to your local gym for a class or follow easy exercises at home videos. The range of movements from a Pilates session engages the muscles in your arms, shoulders, core, legs and glutes, making you feel stronger and leaner - plus you don't need special equipment to get started too.

Best Pilates accessories at a glance

• Best padded exercise mat: Bonnlo 240cm Folding Gymnastics Mats - view on Amazon UK
• Best yoga mat: Liforme Original Yoga Mat - view on Amazon UK
• Best Pilates accessory for building muscle: Gritin Resistance Bands - view on Amazon UK

Before you book into a class or start browsing for Pilates videos, it is good to invest in a few key Pilates essentials such as an exercise mat, gym clothes, and other equipment. This could be a Pilates bar or even resistance bands. If you are new to the world of Pilates, then we have created a guide on the purpose of certain equipment and how to use them.

If you have decided you would like to give Pilates a try or are on the lookout for the best Pilates equipment, then read our list of the best Pilates accessories and equipment to help you get started on your fitness journey.

Best Pilates accessories and equipment

Best padded exercise mat for Pilates

The number one essential for pilates is a proper exercise mat. Spare yourself from working out on a wafer-thin mat and invest in a good gym mat. This one has a folded size of approximately 60cm x 60cm x 20cm, and an unfolded size of roughly 240cm x 60 cm x 5 cm, making it easier to carry and store conveniently. It is 5cm thick so that you will have plenty of cushion.

Pros

  • Waterproof leather cover
  • Cushioning for comfort
  •  Environment friendly EPE foam

Cons

  • May be too thick to be portable

Best yoga mat

Liforme Original Yoga Mat
Price: $149.95

Liforme's mats have been specially designed using eco-polyurethane (an eco-friendly foam), making them fully biodegradable and decompose within one to five years in a landfill. The mats also offer excellent grip, are fully recyclable, and are delivered to your door without unnecessary plastic packaging. If you're seeking an all-around sustainable exercise mat to invest in, this one ticks the boxes.

Customer review: "Worth the money! Non slippery, love the design of the mat which makes it so much easier to practice for a beginner or intermediate."

Pros

  • Biodegradable
  • Sweat-resistant
  • Patented Alignment System
  • Free yoga bag

Cons

  • Can be too thin for some

The best Pilates accessory for balance

This balance ball will help to relieve any back pain and improve your core exercises. It may look like an exercise ball, but it is a device to help you keep balanced.

Customer review: "Nice squidgy ball for pilates."

Pros

  • Comes in Sky Blue, Purple and Coral Pink
  • Made from durable PVC and latex-free
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

Cons

  • Some may prefer cork

Best Pilates accessory for building muscle

Each resistance band is a different shade, but not for appearance's sake. Each colour varies in resistance levels - green is the lightest, and black is the heaviest. With a free carrying bag, it is very easy and convenient to take everywhere too.

Customer review: "I bought my bands in 2021. I thought it was high time to write a review since my bands are still going strong. When I bought any other bands in the past, they lasted anywhere between 6 months to a year. Not these. I’ve used them for over 2 years, and all of them are still going strong."

Pros

  • Five different resistance levels
  • Carrying Case
  • Made of natural rubber

Cons

  • Reviewers say that during some workouts, they do roll up your legs as they’re rubber and not heavy duty.

The best Pilates accessory for toning and sensitive joints

MANTRA SPORTS Pilates Equipment

Rrp: $31.97

Price: $22.93

This double-handled pilates ring is a staple piece to help you perfect your practice. It is used to tone abs, arms and thighs as well as burn fat. Designed specifically for women, this Pilates ring serves as an effective pelvic floor strengthener and inner and outer thigh exerciser, providing targeted workouts for optimal results.

Customer review: "I have to say this is probably one of the best pieces of equipment I've bought. It comes with a large exercise sheet with clear instructions and diagrams for beginners, intermediate and advanced users. I've already noticed the difference."

Pros

  • Comes with a wall chart and pdf
  • Premium-grade, chemical-free material
  • Thick padded handles

Cons

  • Some reviewers say the poster was missing, so check when delivered.

The best alternative to a Pilates machine

This portable pilates bar is a versatile fitness and yoga tool designed to exercise your entire body. Its multi-functional capabilities allow it to replace traditional equipment like barbells and pull ropes, making it a great solution for your workout needs. Whether you're at home or in the gym, this tool is easy to carry and store to fit your fitness routine.

Customer review: "Great exercise tool, very strong and i can tell it will do a good job."

Pros

  • Metal buckle design which is sturdy and durable.
  • Made of high-quality nylon rope
  • Easily disassembles for storage or travel

Cons

  • Only pink and purple

The best Pilates socks for extra grip

Slippy socks are a no go when it comes to pilates classes. You do not want to be slipping all over the place when attempting poses. This pair of pilates socks pair from Sweaty Betty is made with a high-grip design on the sole that adds lots of much-needed support during more difficult balance moves like plank toe taps.

Customer review: "Fantastic for a barre or Pilates workout, keep your feet warm but barely there. They grip the floor in the right way, you keep moving but won’t get stuck!"

Pros

  • Super soft Pilates socks for home and studio.
  • Breathable organic cotton blend.
  • Low-cut heel and toe with cross strap across the foot

Cons

  • Only two in a pack

The best gym leggings for Pilate workouts

A good pair of gym leggings will never go amiss. This pair from Sweaty Betty is made with stretchy fabric which are sweat-resistant and quick-drying. The super high-waisted, bum-sculpting design comes with two side pockets perfect for your phone or headphones.

Customer review: "Great compression, don’t slip down and hold you in."

Pros

  • High-waisted workout legging
  • Sweat-wicking
  • Has two side pockets
  • Four colours and prints
  • Range of sizes

Cons

  • Some may prefer a 3/4 length

Best Pilates accessories FAQs

Benefits of Pilates

Improved confidence and wellbeing: After a Pilates session, you will feel a sense of accomplishment as you will start to see the results. This, in turn, will help you feel more confident and empowered, knowing you are taking control of your health and wellness.

Good for surgery rehabilitation: Pilates is a great way to prepare and recover from hip and knee replacement surgeries and is a safe practice for arthritis and osteoporosis.

Improves balance and coordination: If your balance is a little off, you’re more likely to experience a painful fall – but a regular Pilates class could make all the difference. Studies show that Pilates is one of the best forms of exercise for improving balance.

Builds core strength, bone density and posture: Experts believe that working all the muscles that help to hold you upright helps to build core strength and improve balance. Pilates also helps to improve posture, making you look younger and slimmer instantly.

Is Pilates good for the over 50s?

Yes, Pilates is a fantastic activity for over 50s. It is good for your balance, coordination, bone density, posture, breathing, circulation, strength and flexibility. If you are looking for an introduction to Pilates the NHS have a great video series on Pilates workouts.

Pilates
©Getty Images

Why should I use a resistance band?

Resistance bands may be small, but they're impressive when it comes to the benefits they provide. Using a range of resistance level bands will help build strength where you need it - making it great for a training routine or a rehabilitation programme. Here are some benefits of using resistance bands:

• Use to increase muscle engagement

• An affordable piece of exercise equipment

• Portable and easy to carry on the go-to exercise indoors or outside

• Versatile for a range of exercises and movements

• Use to stretch for improved mobility dynamically

• Tone and build fitness through regular exercise

• Assist in bodyweight exercises, such as standing push-ups or pull-ups

• Easy to store

This video from The Fit RV is a good video to watch for resistance band beginners and for seniors.

What is a Pilates ring?

Although there are many Pilates apparatus options available, the Pilates ring is a versatile piece of equipment that really tackles those hard to tone areas (like the inner thighs and bingo wings).

Pilates is the perfect option for anyone with sensitive joints — or even if you prefer not to jump around a lot during a workout, Pilates is performed mainly sitting or lying on a mat.

This video from The Balanced Life Pilates with Robin Long shows you how to do a Pilates ring workout from home.

How does the Pilates bar work?

Pilates bars are a great alternative to a pilates machine and are handy tools to add to your Pilates workouts and can help you develop strong core muscles. These bars are often weighted and have convenient grips. They sometimes feature straps and bands, which will allow you to use the bar in more ways, just like the CHYIR Portable Pilates Bar Kit.

In this video from Pilates Therapy, you can learn how to use a portable Pilates bar and get started on a full-body workout.

Can seniors with arthritis benefit from Pilates?

Yes, if you have arthritis Pilates will benefit you. Pilates is gentle enough that it will allow the joints to move without impact, which in turn encourages increased circulation and strength to the joint. "Strengthening the muscles around the joint will support those structures which are giving rise to pain, and improving the posture will allow the body to be more balanced," states Pilates Plus Physio.

Ellen Kinsey is a senior health and wellness product writer for Yours, specialising in natural health and beauty. She lives and breathes all things food, travel and wellness.

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