Pilates is an accessible practice that can be achieved with special Pilates equipment such as the reformer or with nothing but a mat! At Sheppard Method Pilates in Westwood, we offer a range of options, from private lessons to group classes. Some of our classes are shaped around specific Pilates equipment, while other Pilates equipment pieces can simply be additional accessories you add to your supplemental at-home practices.
1. The Pilates Reformer
The Pilates reformer is a classic piece of equipment used in Pilates intended to implement resistance training into your low-impact practice. Created by Joseph Pilates himself, the reformer uses a padded carriage on a wooden frame and uses an adjustable spring system to enable different levels of resistance. The Pilates reformer allows for a full range of motion, which helps to increase flexibility and build strength at the same time. This combination is great for those advanced or experienced in Pilates who want to add challenge and variety to their practice. But it is also excellent for beginners, as the reformer offers support for the full range of motion that you may not be able to achieve on the mat when you are first getting started. The reformer is also a great way for your Pilates instructor to diagnose and understand your own physical movement and where and how to improve.
While the Pilates reformer can certainly be a part of your at-home Pilates practice, many people find it easier to attend reformer classes, as the equipment can be an expensive investment and take up space in your home. At Sheppard Method Pilates, we are happy to offer different levels of Pilates reformer classes so you can reap the unmatched benefits of using this iconic equipment.
2. The Pilates Jumpboard
The jump board is an accessory piece of Pilates equipment that is attached to the Pilates reformer to replace the foot bar. This minor alteration transforms it into a horizontal jumping machine. Yes, that’s right—you “jump” while lying down! While on your back in the carriage, you can adjust the spring tension of the board as you jump and perform specific movements. The spring tension removes gravity from the “jump” which allows an accessible alternative for those with ankle, knee, or joint issues. Additionally, lying down keeps your spine in optimal alignment, allowing each movement to be more efficient, effective, and safer overall.
At Sheppard Method Pilates, we love teaching our cardio jumpboard group classes! By incorporating low-impact cardio to reformer Pilates sessions, you burn calories and get a sweat going, all while conditioning the body and reaping the benefits of Pilates practice.
3. Exercise Mat
For Pilates that is not performed using the Pilates reformer, it is known simply as mat Pilates. Therefore, the key piece of equipment is an exercise mat! However, there are a lot of exercise mats that range in thickness, size, material, and price. If you are planning on purchasing a mat for Pilates practice, there are a few things to consider.
- When it comes to thickness, the ideal mat for Pilates is somewhere between 8mm and 15mm. If you are looking to use your exercise mat for multiple reasons such as Pilates, yoga, and even at-home workouts, 6mm of thickness is a great versatile option.
- The size of your mat should accommodate the size of your body. You want to make sure it is large enough that you are able to stretch out and stay on your mat.
- The material of your Pilates mat is generally more important to your personal taste than its functionality. Technically, any soft material that can properly cushion the spine can be used as a Pilates mat—even a beach towel! However, when choosing a mat to purchase, you will want to consider natural materials (bamboo, suede, and cotton) versus synthetic materials (latex, rubber, and PVC). Generally speaking, synthetic mats are more affordable, but they tend to stick to the skin during workouts.
At Sheppard Method Pilates, you can expect to find any mats you may need for mat Pilates lessons but are welcome to bring your own as well.
4. Resistance Bands
When on the mat, resistance bands provide similar strength training opportunities as the reformer does, but with the accessibility of small, portable equipment. A perfect addition to your Pilates home studio practices, resistance bands, or resistance tubes. These come in several different options. Like your exercise mat, you will want to consider if you will use resistance bands for more than just Pilates, if you plan to travel with them, as well as your personal strength levels. There is no wrong way to go with these!
5. Pilates Ring
The Pilates ring, also known colloquially as the “magic circle,” is a small, adaptable piece of Pilates equipment used to add resistance and challenge to mat Pilates routines. Like resistance bands, adding resistance training to your Pilates practice can boost strength building and add that extra level of challenge. However, the magic circle also helps with alignment through your Pilates movements. This versatile prop activates the muscles at a deeper level and can be used to sculpt your thighs, glutes arms, and of course, your core.
6. Mini Ball
The Pilates mini ball can be used in similar ways as the Pilates ring, adding resistance training. The Pilates mini ball is also a great conditioning tool for building pelvic and deep core strength; many physical therapists even recommend the use of the Pilates mini ball for certain injury and physical trauma rehabilitation, especially with the pelvic floor. Unlike resistance tools, this accessory focuses on stabilization to activate your deep core muscles. You will be able to maintain proper alignment and lower back support while performing Pilates movements, relieving tension and improving your posture as well.
Attending the Westwood Pilates Studio at Sheppard Method Pilates
There are many more pieces of Pilates equipment that can and are used in Pilates practice. From reformer boxes to Pilates chairs and even rollers. However, this short list is the perfect introduction to a simple, effective approach to Pilates practice and what we like to focus on at Sheppard Method Pilates.
No matter what approach to Pilates you are craving, Sheppard Method Pilates has a class for you. We offer group reformer classes, cardio jump board classes, private or duo mat Pilates, as well as private at-home lessons. You don’t need to own any special equipment to get started!
Call the Westwood Pilates instructors at Sheppard Method Pilates to book your first class and transform your body from the inside out!