How to get started with Pilates at home

If you’re curious about taking up Pilates but aren’t keen on going to a private instructor, studio or gym there is another option available to help you get started.

You can easily do Pilates at home, proving you have a mat and someone to guide you through a routine, such as a free workout video via a Pilates instructor on YouTube. Ideally you should invest in a Pilates mat, but this isn’t essential if you just want to try Pilates out.

That being said, I would always recommend you seek training from a professionally certified instructor if you are a complete beginner. This will reduce your risk of injury and will ensure you’re performing the exercises correctly.

If this isn’t possible, don’t miss out on the benefits of Pilates, it’s one of the best ways to strengthen your core, build strength and stamina, reduce back pain and maintain a healthy spine. So how do you tap into this at home?

What is Pilates?

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates and is a form of exercise that is low-impact and can be done at home with minimal equipment. It focuses on strengthening the core muscles, as well as improving flexibility and posture.

Anyone can do Pilates, regardless of their fitness level or experience.

In order to get started with Pilates, all you need is a mat and some space to move around.

Before starting Pilates

Many people choose to do Pilates at home because it is a convenient way to fit the workout into their schedule.

However, before starting any Pilates program, it is important to consult with your doctor if you have any medical conditions.

This is especially important if you are pregnant or have any existing injuries.

How to set up a home studio

A “Pilates Home Studio” sounds very grand and expensive, and if you were to have a dedicated space built, it would be!

If you’re getting started your “studio” only really requires:

If you’ve never done Pilates before and are just looking to try Pilates out the only item I’d suggest is essential is a device such as a tablet or internet connected TV that allows you to watch Pilates classes on a free service such as YouTube.

Why is this essential? If you’ve never done Pilates before, free video workouts are the perfect introduction to the basic moves and to test out if it’s for you.

Can you do pilates at home? Yes, lessons are available online.

You could try to learn from a book or print out exercises, but I believe following along with a Pilates workout via video is much easier and the videos often contain exercise tips about Pilates exercises you wouldn’t usually find in a book/print out.

As you progress further you may wish to invest in additional Pilates equipment such as:

  • Pilates Magic Ring
  • Pilates Bar
  • Sliders
  • Resistance bands
  • Ball

There are lots of extras like the above you can purchase, but don’t worry, you don’t need any of this to start with, you could do mat Pilates for years without any additional equipment.

Why don’t you need additional equipment?  The beauty of Pilates is it uses your own body weight during the workout to help improve your core and muscle strength.  

You will likely come across classes featuring some of this equipment as a way of offering variety and extra challenge.

If you’re new to Pilates, start with basic exercises without equipment and progress slowly until you are confident in the basics.

5 Pilates home workouts to get you started

Getting started with Pilates is relatively easy. You can try doing simple exercises like planks, lunges and leg lifts.

If you’re looking for a more complete workout there are many online tutorials that can help you teach yourself Pilates, just be sure to pick beginner classes, so you’re not attempting complex positions (important for injury prevention, get the basics correct first). Here are 5 excellent workouts that are freely available via YouTube for you to do at home.  Be sure to hit the subscribe button for the instructors you like to be informed about future videos they create.  Most instructors upload on a regular basis, it’s like having a regular Pilates class in the comfort of your own home.

Pilates with Donna Finnie

Moves With Nicole

Jessica Valant Pilates


Sean Vigue Fitness

Keep track of your progress

When starting something new like Pilates it’s important to consider what your goals are.  Are you aiming to develop toned muscles?  Do you wish to improve your mobility and flexibility?  What is it you’d like to achieve?

Setting a goal is important as it will allow you to understand the progress you make and this is especially true when working out at home.  The type of exercise you do will impact the result, for example if you only focus on your upper body you may have lean muscles in your arms, but you could lack flexibility in your legs.

If you are unsure about tracking your progress see this article: How to track your Pilates progress

Home Pilates FAQs

I’m often asked questions about doing Pilates at home by my clients, here are the most frequent questions I’ve answered.

What do you need to do Pilates at home?

To do Pilates at home, all you need is some space, a mat, and instructions to explain what the moves are. This could be a book, DVD or a streamed video tutorial.

Can I do Pilates on my own?

Yes, you can do Pilates on your own with the right equipment and knowledge. Pilates can be done solo or in a group.

Can you do Pilates without a machine?

Yes! You can do Pilates with just your own bodyweight and some basic equipment.  The “machine” is called a Pilates Reformer, while you can purchase one for home use it isn’t required.  In fact, you can enhance your existing workouts with things you already have, such as a chair and a wall.

Does Pilates flatten your stomach?

Yes, Pilates helps in toning up the abdominal muscles, which results in a flat tummy.

Can a beginner do Pilates?

People of all fitness levels can take up Pilates.  We all start as beginners and improve as we gain more experience  If you want to start Pilates then you can either try out some exercises at home or visit a professional instructor who will show you how to perform each exercise safely and effectively.

Home vs. Studio Workouts

A key thing to keep in mind is that as with most forms of exercise, doing it yourself without an expert advice will lead to slower progress than working with a professional.

In both cases you’ll use your entire body to build up your core strength, but home workouts will be lacking critical feedback regarding your performance, for example making sure you’re in the correct starting position or that you are doing mat exercises that compliment each other.

As well as gaining feedback, attending a studio can also open up additional benefits. For example, hands on postural alignment, a customised exercise program and access to Reformer equipment when you reach an intermediate level of proficiency.

There is another option you can consider that merges both home workouts and in person instructor led workouts and that’s live-streamed classes.

These became popular during the global pandemic when Pilates instructors like myself could no longer see clients face to face.  We had to transition to a different way to deliver classes.  I personally use a booking system that works with Zoom, you book the class that suits you best and then join me live, in the comfort of your own home, for a Pilates class.

If that sound like it might be of interest to you I’d love to offer you a free Zoom class, click here to claim yours: 


Pilates is a great way to get in shape without having to go to the gym. If you are just starting out, be sure to take it slow and consult with your doctor if required.

Can you do Pilates at home? Yes, Pilates can be done at home with a few simple pieces of equipment, like a mat and some weights. You can also find lots of helpful videos online that will show you how to do the exercises correctly.

Donna Finnie

Donna loves to share her passion for Pilates with others. She is a fully qualified instructor who believes Pilates is for everyone, regardless of age, as it can truly help to increase strength, flexibility mobility and athletic performance.

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