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How To Create an At-Home Pilates Workout

Today’s post on how to create an at-home Pilates workout is by the oh-so talented Andrea Speir (remember her from this post on why you should do Pilates in the morning?), who has an extensive knowledge of the physical body, injuries and sports therapy combined with a background as a dancer and a Pilates instructor. Andrea teaches conferences and retreats around the world. She has an app and has released numerous DVDs including Perfect Pilates Body, and Trim, Tighten and Tone, a DVD she shot as part of The Pilates Fix, the YouTube channel and e-zine she co-founded. 

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How To Create an At-Home Pilates Workout

When you hear the word Pilates, so many things come to mind, right?

  • scary, medieval looking equipment
  • high prices
  • amazing celebrity bodies
  • physical therapy and rehabilitation

Well, I’m hear to tell you that YES, all these impressions are fair! I may be a Pilates instructor today, but once I was an injured dancer with $15 in my bank account and in desperate need to strengthen my body, stabilize my joints and make me feel happy (and not depleted). I was put in Pilates for physical therapy and my first reaction was something along the lines of: ”What the what?!” The studio was filled with equipment that seemed daunting and people performing moves I’d never seen the likes of.

Within minutes though I was in love. The exercises are all about working to what your personal level is and strengthening YOUR body. Pilates is referred to as a “practice” because you never master something. You are always working, learning and strengthening your body. Every time you practice Pilates you get something out of it. I would love if that was on the list of impressions people have of Pilates. This practice is about your body and mind; not the person on the mat next to you.

Pilates mat work was the origin of this body-conditioning method, and I believe these are some of the most challenging and effective exercises. Mat work is the base of Pilates work. The moves strengthen muscles, improve balance and posture, build definition, and help improve flexibility. Pilates workouts can range from just a few minutes to a full-hour workout or even longer, depending on your personal time restraints, and can be modified for your own personal needs and goals, allowing you to get exactly what you need out of your workout.

That’s why pulling your Pilates mat out of the hall closet and unrolling it on the living room floor is a fantastic idea — you don’t need expensive equipment, you don’t need a room of people working out with you to loud music, and you don’t need to pay exorbitant amounts of money or schedule two hours to block out. You just need yourself, commitment to your own health and the right attitude.

So let’s go over the basic 101 of how you go about creating your at-home Pilates workout so you can get your “teaser” on before you can say “teaser”!

Home Pilates Workout: What You Need

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A Pilates mat: How is a Pilates mat different from a yoga mat you ask? A Pilates mat is thicker than a yoga mat; it can range from around 1 to 2 inches of thickness. The reason for this is that you do lots of rolling on your spine in Pilates, and you need that extra squish to massage the discs.

If you’re looking to invest, here’s a link to my all time favorite mat. And here’s a link for a mat that will be great but is more affordable.

(If you have a yoga mat, that’s fine but I do recommend putting it on a softer surface when you work out, like carpet or grass.)

Optional: A Magic Circle! This is my all-time favorite Pilates prop. While it’s not necessary at all to get a fantastic home Pilates workout in, it is incredibly fun and effective. It increases the weight and intensity of certain exercises, which can help amp up your results. Here’s a link to pick one up if you’re interested.

Attire: In Pilates, it’s best to wear tighter fitting clothes. Pilates work all starts with the core, so being able to see your abdominal muscles is very helpful. Also, wearing tighter fitting clothes keeps your clothes from bunching up or moving around in these flowing style workout routines. Maybe bare that midriff by going in the sports bra! No need to be shy, it’s just you at home so build up that confidence, girl!

You will be barefoot or in socks; that is your personal preference. If you wear socks, it is nice to have socks with a bit of grip. My favorite are Shashi because they are really comfortable, have great grip and are stylish!

Okay, so now you’re dressed and ready to go on your Pilates mat. So what do you do … ?

Home Pilates Workout: DVDs to Try

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Perfect Pilates Body: Not to be a shameless self-promoter, but this was my first DVD, and I put lots of love into these routines and completely swear by them. My body got stronger and more defined than possibly ever before when I spent a month rehearsing these routines. They are broken down into six different 10-minute routines that focus on different parts of the body like core, legs, butt, arms, full-body stretching. They can be mixed and matched so you get a complete classical Pilates workout that suits your time and goals. It’s also available as an app with iTunes and Google Play.

Trim Tighten and Tone: This DVD features two 20-minute Pilates routines that are based on classical Pilates, with a bit of a fun modern twist to amp up results. These routines are broken into upper-body and lower-body. The DVD also features two 10-minute routines — stretching for flexibility and a cardio blast. The cardio element is a fun routine that can be done on the mat to help blast any extra weight. See a trailer here.

Element: Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners: This DVD is a solid classical workout that teaches proper form and keeps you moving. A great one to rotate in your at-home Pilates workouts!

Home Pilates Workout: Books to Check Out

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The Big Book of PilatesThis book breaks down the essentials for classical Pilates and is great for someone wanting to learn more about this amazing body conditioning method!

Return to LifeThis book is a must-read for any committed Pilates practitioner. This is the book Joseph Pilates wrote himself on his philosophy and exercises. He models his exercises, and it is beyond fascinating.

Home Pilates Workout: The Best Pilates Workout Sites

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If you are interested in paying a small monthly fee for some top-notch classical workouts, these sites offer mat Pilates routines I can 100-percent say I support!

Subscription Sites:

YouTube Sites:

Okay, so there you go! Now the next step is to look at your calendar and block out your Pilates workouts as if they’re any other appointment in your day. Remember your health is just as important as anything else scheduled in on your weekly appointments, if not MORE important, so make yourself a priority and enjoy working your way toward that beautiful and strong Pilates body.

So how many of you guys do Pilates workouts at home? And now that you know you don’t need a lot of gear or stuff to get started, who’s going to try it on the reg? —Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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6 Comments
  1. Thanks for this! I keep saying I’m going to try pilates and I never do. I think I will give it a go tomorrow!

  2. Atisheh says:

    I love this! thank you for all these resources. I do have a question though: I see several different editions of the Joseph Pilates book online. Are there some that are better than others, and if so, which?

  3. Deb E says:

    I started years ago with a few books from Brooke Siler. She studied under a pupil of Joseph Pilates and love her clear explanations. I also love my Magic Circle, having worn out my first one. I have a great mat that’s pink/grey and has many Pilates exercises printed right on it, in the order you do them. I love that too. Love all my Pilates DVDs.

  4. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing. Excellent info here, I am currently doing some research and found exactly what I was looing for. I will try it at home.

  5. Lanka says:

    Thanks for Tips. T will try it at home and sharing my friends.

  6. Chantal says:

    I’m new to Pilates so I found this helpful. Thanks!