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Your Guide To Pilates Equipment

If you're just getting started with Pilates, the different types of equipment available can seem overwhelming. In truth, you need very little equipment in the beginning. The key is to get involved. If you decide you want to pursue the discipline further, you can buy additional pieces as you become more experienced. Below, we'll describe the equipment that you'll need to get started. You'll also learn about equipment that many veteran Pilates fans use.

Buying The Basics

Most of the exercises that you'll be doing in the beginning can be done on the floor. So, a Pilates mat is critical. They look similar to yoga mats, but there's a key difference: Pilates mats are thicker (you'll be thankful for the extra padding). You can purchase mats that either roll up (so they're easily portable) or fold. The mats that fold are typically of higher quality than the portable roll-up mats.

Next, you need clothes that are well-suited to the exercises you'll be doing. They should offer plenty of room so the movement and stretch of your limbs aren't hampered. If you already perform yoga, use the same clothes. Otherwise, make sure your clothes are loose enough to offer plenty of flexibility.

The Pilates Reformer

Once you decide to devote yourself to Pilates, consider buying a reformer. It looks similar to a rowing machine and allows you to take advantage of nearly 100 Pilates exercises that are otherwise impossible. Using a simple pulley system, you can control the amount of resistance during your exercise routine. Low-end reformers can cost as little as $150. However, the high-end models offering features such as jumpboards and rebounders that allow more strenuous exercises can cost up to $5,000.

Resistance Bands

The goal of using a resistance band is to create resistance during your exercises. They're portable and are popular in many types of fitness disciplines. You don't need to use a resistance band while doing your Pilates routine, but many people enjoy doing so. Remember, much of Pilates is focused on your breathing, muscular control and concentration. A resistance band can help build strength in your muscles, but it's not a critical piece of Pilates equipment.

The Pilates Barrel

The barrel is a piece of equipment that actually looks like a half-barrel. They're used to help support your back during many of your exercises. For many Pilates enthusiasts, the barrel is a great tool for relieving the stress they feel throughout their neck, shoulders and spine. Others use the barrel to perform deeper stretching exercises than they're able without the barrel.

Exercise Balls

Though exercise balls aren't a crucial part of Pilates, many devotees claim they're necessary to get the most out of their exercises. One of the reasons they're popular is that the ball is a great tool for maintaining balance (one of Joseph Pilates's 6 guiding principles). Also, because exercise balls focus tension on the core muscles, their use complements the Pilates exercise program.

You Don't Need Much To Get Started

Despite the different types of equipment available, you don't need most of it to get involved. With a good Pilates mat and some loose-fitting clothing, you can begin doing many of the exercises. Once you have some experience and you decide to devote yourself, consider buying a Pilates reformer. With it, you'll significantly expand the number of exercises you can perform. Resistance bands, exercise balls and the Pilates barrel also offer unique benefits. But, don't hesitate to get started simply because you lack these items. Joseph Pilates designed his program to be enjoyed without them.