There are trends that come and go (and should stay in the past—looking at you, sweater vests), then there are those that were so good that they come full circle. And if we’re talking about the feel-good world of wellness, there’s one workout that falls in the latter category. Re-enter: Pilates. ICYMI, it’s made a major comeback, and for good reason. Making its debut in the 1920s as a form of rehabilitation, Pilates is a low-impact workout that emphasizes core strength, flexibility, and mind-body connection. But don’t underestimate its effectiveness—it packs a punch.
It counts celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Hailey Bieber as devotees, and there’s no denying that they’re #fitspo. But Pilates isn’t just for A-listers with endless funds. While it’s traditionally performed on a reformer machine at fitness spots, you can easily adapt the discipline with just a mat. The best part other than firing up your core and getting a full-body experience? You can get your Pilates fix on a budget and in your very own dedicated gym space (AKA your living room), and we’re here to tell you how. Read on for five ways to affordably practice Pilates at home.
1. Take Pilates classes online
Sure, you can flex your Pilates muscles at one of the many dedicated studios, but if the last couple of years has taught us anything, it’s that we can sweat it out with the best of them from the comfort of our own homes (and save some dough). Not sure where to start? Look no further than online fitness platform obé Fitness. Whether you have a few pieces of gear on hand or there’s no hand weight in sight, they’ve got you covered. You can filter obé’s Pilates workouts based on no equipment or what you do have. Only have a few minutes to get your body moving? Don’t sweat it (I can’t promise that you won’t break one though). obé has live and on-demand class offerings that range from five minutes to 60.
What’s more, you can plank and leg-lift anywhere—from your bedroom to your balcony in Italy—with your favorite instructors cheering you on. No joke—you get first-rate instruction and the energy of a group fitness class from your digs. And if you want to take it up a notch, you have the option to combine Pilates with other types of workouts (think: HIIT, sculpt, and yoga) to get the best of both worlds. While in-person Pilates memberships can set you back a couple hundred dollars each month, you can stick to your hot girl summer reserve doing Pilates in your humble abode using code TEG50 for a 7-day free trial + 50% off your first month of obé!
2. Invest in affordable Pilates equipment or use what you already have
A solid Pilates workout doesn’t require any props, but if you want to level up and add variety to your sweat sessions, consider stocking up on a few pieces of equipment or find alternatives around the house.
The must-have accessory to have within reach? A trusty mat. With the wealth of choices out there, you could have one for every day of the week, every mood, and every matching set (if you want to be extra). Opt for a thicker one with a good grip to give added support when you’re doing your Teasers and Side Bends.
For an easy mat back-up, pull a few towels or blankets out of your linen closet and layer them up depending on the amount of support you need.
Mini Pilates ball
Don’t be fooled by the size and weight of this add-on. After a few minutes with it, you’ll feel muscles you never knew you had. Use it between your thighs to activate your pelvic floor or underneath your tailbone to make your core exercises more challenging.
Not ready to commit to the Pilates ball? Have no fear. Grab a throw pillow, put it between your thighs, and get to work!
Sliders (AKA gliders or discs)
I’m going to bet you’ll develop a love-hate relationship with these guys. The closest thing to mimicking movements done on a reformer, gliders make it easy to slide your feet or knees out, in, and sideways while engaging your core.
You know those old towels you keep on hand for “just-in-case” moments? Well, now is the time to put them to good use. Substitute them for the sliders and clean your floors while you’re at it (it’s a clear win-win). And if you have a carpet-only sitch, swap in paper plates.
Whether you go the hand or wearable weights route, the oh-so-good burn will sneak up on you. Great for strengthening your balance, enhancing coordination, and working your upper or lower body, you’ll maximize your sweat with 1-, 2-, or 3-pounders.
Don’t want to spend your hard-earned cash on weights? Grab some water bottles or jugs, canned goods, bags of rice or beans, et voilà—problem solved.
Throw in some resistance to your favorite moves with bands of varying levels, and you can easily switch up your Pilates routine. Inexpensive, yet effective, they’re ideal for building strength and flexibility. Place your band of choice around your thighs, ankles, or wrists for more intensity.
If you want a no-spend option, dig out the old pairs of leggings buried in your dresser drawer and DIY some resistance bands. Tie the two legs of a pair together (this make take some trial-and-error) and wrap it around your knees, ankles, or wrists.
Simple in theory, this tool does a lot. Flanked by padded grips, you can squeeze in or push out to target your inner and outer thighs, chest and shoulders, and pelvic floor. Bonus points: It can give you a leg up on your posture and balance too.
Put your foam roller on double-duty and use it in place of a Pilates ring. Light and compact enough to hold or squeeze, it’ll do the job well.
3. Grab a book on Pilates
DIY your Pilates workout with the guidance of a good, old-fashioned book. No matter your level of experience, there’s a paperback for you. From restorative stretching to a series of compound movements (read: firing up more than one muscle group at a time), you can customize your Pilates practice. Look for titles that include clear illustrations and detailed descriptions of exercises to guide you every step (or squeeze) of the way.
If you’re a newbie, no problem! Picking up a book on the basics will give you an intro to technique and form, teach you the difference between the “Hundred” and “Swan Dive,” and give you a solid foundation to build your Pilates routine. Bottom line: You do you, and go at your own pace (no intimidation or judgment here).
4. Get the Pilates look
I think we can all agree that there’s nothing like a new workout set to get you motivated for a good sweat. So make room in your “hot girl summer” budget and treat yourself to a ‘fit that’ll complete your Pilates girl look. A quick Amazon search of “workout sets for women” will give you endless scrolls of matching two-piece duds that won’t break the bank. Pro tip: Look out for those with the “Prime Try Before You Buy” option (a free seven-day try-on period where you’ll only be charged for what you keep). And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Amazon Lululemon dupes our very own fashion editor, Maddie, put to the test (and gave her stamp of approval).
When you’re on your third Target run for the week (anyone feel me?), peruse their JoyLab activewear section and you’ll find wallet-friendly, lust-worthy pieces to fill your cart. Then there’s Old Navy with a crazy-good, extensive workout collection that includes offerings in various fabrics and sizes XS-4X. So go ahead and don your newest workout set like you would going to the gym, light a candle, and hit “play” on your Pilates playlist for your next heart-pumping at-home sesh.
5. Follow Pilates influencers
Thanks to IG and TikTok, you can make connections and immerse yourself in the world of Pilates with a few scrolls and clicks and for zilch. It may take some exploration to find your new favorite, must-follow Pilates guru and a community you vibe with most, but the good news? There’s no shortage of inspo, hacks, and tips to get your #fitspo fill. Find instructional videos, workouts that target a specific part of the body, and advice for the novice and pro alike. So on your next scroll, be on the hunt for the Pilates It girl to inspire your next workout.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of obé Fitness, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.