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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
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Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Pilates starter sets

Are you looking for a low-impact, cost-effective way to get in shape and keep your body functioning at its fullest capacity? Pilates is one of the best choices today.

If you’re just beginning your Pilates journey, you will need a Pilates starter set. The right starter set contains all of the items you need to perform these wonderful exercises. Many options are available, but the average Pilates starter set includes several key pieces of equipment. Best of all, the cost is usually less than the price of a tank full of gas.

This guide will give you helpful tips for succeeding at Pilates and answer some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions.

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Before beginning any new exercise program, including Pilates, you must first inform your health care provider to be certain it’s a safe and suitable course of action for you.

Key considerations

Resistance bands

There are three main types of resistance bands you can use in Pilates. Different sets contain different types, so take note of which type your set includes.

Ribbon bands: These light-duty resistance bands are usually made of latex or synthetic rubber. They are not loops, just ribbons, so they must be gripped with your hands when you use them.

Loop bands: These resistance bands are much more versatile. You can wrap them around different body parts, such as your ankles, to add resistance when exercising. They range from thin, light-duty latex to heavy-duty bands made of thick rubber. Some are covered with fabric for comfort.

Tube bands: Instead of being flat, tube bands are made of durable elastic tubing. Since it would be difficult to grip a thin tube, these resistance bands have handles on each end. In general, they are heavy-duty in nature; some are capable of providing as much as 50 pounds of resistance.

Pilates ring

This large, flexible fiberglass ring is coated with foam padding and has two handles. You squeeze the Pilates ring between your arms, hands, legs, or feet for added resistance. Alternatively, you can use your hands to pull out the sides of the Pilates ring.

Mini ball

Similar to a Pilates ring, this small ball can be held in place between the arms, hands, legs, or feet. It can also be passed back and forth from hands to legs or feet and back again.

Yoga blocks

While similar in purpose to a Pilates ring or mini ball, yoga blocks are far more versatile. Besides holding them between your arms, hands, legs, or feet, you can balance them on your arms, hands, legs, or feet to increase the difficulty of an exercise. Since these items are rectangular in shape, they can be placed on the mat and used to elevate certain areas of the body. For example, you can put them under your toes while doing push-ups to increase the intensity of the exercise.

Stability ball

A stability ball is a large inflatable ball that may be used to increase the intensity of an exercise. Typically, these items are made of anti-burst PVC plastic. Because the user must concentrate on stabilizing the body, the exercises engage the larger muscle groups and become much more difficult.

Pilates bar

You will have to spend a little more to get a Pilates starter set that includes a Pilates bar. This is a foam-covered bar with resistance bands attached. In general, the bar is held by the hands or placed over the shoulders while the feet go into the stirrups of the resistance bands. A wide variety of exercises can be performed with a Pilates bar.

Because Pilates is low-impact exercise, injuries are rare. However, they are not impossible, so care should be taken during every Pilates exercise session.

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Features

Durability

You will likely be using your Pilates starter set every other day, at the very least. Because of this, we suggest that you invest in quality materials that will last. It is more cost-efficient to purchase one quality starter set than several inferior sets.

Nonslip socks

A number of Pilates starter sets include a pair of textured socks. Depending on the type of exercises you do, these could be a help or a hindrance (they do not allow freedom of movement). While a thoughtful addition, nonslip socks are not a necessity.

Color

Perhaps you have a favorite color, or perhaps you just want your Pilates equipment to stand out from other sets in your Pilates class. Chances are you can purchase a set in the unique color of your choice.

Instructions

Most Pilates starter sets come with a sheet of instructions, an exercise manual, or a DVD or link to helpful online videos. While thoughtful, this shouldn't be a deal-breaker if not included, as a wealth of Pilates information and exercises can be found online.

Carrying bag

Even if you are performing your Pilates exercises at home, a carrying bag gives you a convenient place to store your gear. Although not a necessity, it will be appreciated.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Pilates is named after German physical trainer Joseph Pilates, who developed a series of exercises and training techniques to help correct ineffective breathing and poor posture.
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Accessories

Mat: ProsourceFit Extra-Thick Pilates Mat 
Pilates mats need to be thick to cushion the sensitive areas of your body as you exercise. This high-density foam mat is specifically designed for comfort. It is water- and slip-resistant and comes with a carrying strap.

Headband: isnowood No-Slip Workout Headbands 
This pack of three stylish, moisture-wicking, one-size-fits-all headbands can keep both sweat and hair from getting in the way while you work out. The comfortable, breathable, no-slip headbands are designed to leave no marks on your forehead. 

Gym towel: SINLAND Microfiber Gym Towels 
This three-pack of 16 x 32-inch gym towels is designed to last up to 500 washings. The lightweight microfiber towels absorb more than regular towels and dry up to three times faster.

Water bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle 
Hydration is crucial when exercising. With Hydro Flask's durable, dishwasher safe water bottle, you can have your beverages at the precise temperature you like them whenever you get thirsty. The slip-free powder coating ensures you won't drop the water bottle no matter how hard you work out.

Pilates starter set prices

Inexpensive: If budget is your top priority, you can find a five-piece Pilates starter set for around $15. The main concern when purchasing at this price point is durability. Some resistance bands and other products in this budget range might not be as durable as hoped.

Mid-range: From $22 to $32, you can find Pilates starter sets that are a little more reliable than the basic options. These sets may go beyond the typical five-piece sets and include yoga blocks, a Pilates ring, and more. Most consumers find this the best price zone to begin their search.

High-end: For $35 and up, Pilates starter sets offer the most durable items. These sets are manufactured to be rugged, and the equipment may include such features as built-in handles and carabiners for secure connections. Additionally, you may find larger items such as a stability ball, Pilates bar, and more.

While Pilates can help you maintain a healthy weight, it is not ideal for losing weight. The best way to lose weight is combining an active lifestyle with a healthy diet.

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Tips

  • Wear comfortable clothing. Pilates exercises are designed to increase your range of motion. If you are wearing restrictive clothing, this may cause you to (unconsciously) underperform.
  • Clear your area and mind of distractions. If something is troubling you or clamoring for your attention, you won't be able to focus as you should. Clear all distractions before engaging in a Pilates session.
  • Focus on your form. Each Pilates exercise is designed to have maximum effect when you use correct posture. If you have poor posture, not only will the exercise be less effective, but your risk of injury will increase.
  • Go slowly. Pilates is not vigorous exercise. The movements are to be done with precision. If you move too fast, you can decrease the effectiveness of each exercise and increase your chance of injury.
  • Maintain balance. By balance, we don't mean keeping yourself from falling over (though that is essential). We mean that you should exercise all body parts equally. If you've just worked out your left side, switch to your right side. If you've just focused on your legs, move to your arms.
  • Breathe. While half of Pilates focuses on movement, the other half focuses on breathing. You need oxygen to stay sharp and focused. You also need oxygen to burn calories. If you're not breathing properly, you are not getting the full benefit of the exercise.
  • Make it part of your life. To succeed, Pilates has to become a regular part of your life, not something you simply squeeze in when you have time.
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The creator of Pilates actually preferred the name Contrology because each and every exercise is to be done with precision and control.

FAQ

Q. Who is Pilates for?

A. Because of the philosophy and the wide variety of exercises, both an absolute beginner and an elite athlete (and anyone between those two extremes) can benefit from Pilates.

Q. What health benefits can I expect from Pilates?

A. Individuals who regularly engage in Pilates note improved posture, balance, muscle tone, and mobility. Additionally, Pilates can help reduce tension and relieve stress.

Q. Why is increased mobility important?

A. If you start to lose range of motion in your joints, your movements become restricted. To compensate, you may put more stress on other joints, develop poor posture, and start having chronic aches and pains that could further limit your mobility.

Q. What is the difference between Pilates and yoga?

A. Since Pilates and yoga both incorporate the mind and body in a unified exercise experience, they share a number of similarities. Arguably, the biggest difference between the two is that yoga typically requires no additional equipment. Also, yoga relies heavily on static poses and flexibility while Pilates tends to have a slightly stronger focus on strengthening muscle groups. Neither of these differences is drastic, however. Someone who benefits from yoga could just as easily benefit from Pilates.

 

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