What type of small equipment is used in Pilates?

Pilates small equipment varies and includes items and props such as Pilates mats, head cushions, resistance bands, loop bands, soft balls, weighted balls, prickle (stimulating massage) balls, foam rollers, and such like. This type of small equipment is typically used in Pilates matwork based classes, or for personal home practice. 


My Pilates classes are all matwork based; the most accessible form of this fantastic exercise regime, and therefore a mat is the most essential item of equipment, with a head cushion as an additional option. Most of the Pilates matwork exercises are completed in the supine, prone, kneeling or side lying position, so it is easy to understand how a mat provides a really useful and welcome cushion for the body and joints, whilst a head cushion is useful for support or correct alignment of the neck.  A thicker mat can also be especially supportive for certain exercises, such as rolling movements through the spine when lying supine. 


Back in the day, pre-lockdown and Covid, I would supply and set out one of my mats and Pilates head cushions for every single class member prior to each of my Pilates classes. Nowadays, after such experience, most of my class members tend to bring their own mats, as well as cushions if they would like to use one, although I do still have a small supply that I sanitise and transport with me for anyone who does not have their own.


The other example pieces of Pilates small equipment I mentioned are usually included in matwork classes as props that enhance the Pilates exercise experience, provide additional challenge, and some very interesting feedback around posture and technical execution of the exercises.


Personally, I am mostly a fan of the resistance band, weighted balls, soft balls and prickle (stimulating massage) balls. If someone would like to buy their own, these small pieces of equipment are also relatively inexpensive, versatile, and easy to store or transport. Having said that, during lockdown and a life of Pilates classes conducted via Zoom, not everybody had such items to hand, so many of my class members had much fun with some useful alternatives such as a plastic jar of chilli sauce instead of a weighted ball, a squidgy cushion instead of a soft ball, or a pair of leggings or tights instead of a band!


Although it is easy to find a wide range of Pilates small equipment online, not all perform in the same way. Therefore, I am often asked which pieces are my favourites. So, you may find my handy links below useful if you are thinking of buying your own at any point:


Pilates Soft Balls (red 9 inch):



Resistance Bands (medium):



Pilates Soft Weighted balls (0.5kg):



Prickle Stimulating Massage Balls:



If you are looking to buy your own mat and Pilates head cushion, there are also a myriad of places to buy these online or on the high street. The below links are just some examples of what you may find if you are shopping around:


Small Pilates Head Cushions & Covers (depth 1 inch):



Workout mats:



If you are thinking about starting Pilates, please do get in touch via my Contact page HERE. In the meantime, next week commencing 13th March 2023 is my Soft Ball based Pilates class, so I am off now to plan my session!

Cheerio for now...

Jane Fletcher



This entry was posted on March 8, 2023