This post is the first in a four-part series about investing in home equipment as a Pilates practitioner. Future posts will cover navigating the secondhand equipment market, as well as advice about taking the DIY route.
If you start getting serious about your Pilates practice, you’ll probably consider buying home equipment, usually a reformer. But a quick online search indicates that even lower-cost reformers, towers, and barrels designed for home use are still a substantial financial investment for most people. If you’re going to commit not just to the cost, but to the space equipment can take up in your house, you want to be ready. However, not everyone is clear on how to tell if they’re prepared to take that step. In my opinion, there is one factor that is the first step toward your home equipment purchase.
You might be surprised that I don’t consider price the primary factor in whether or not you’re ready to invest in home equipment. After all, Pilates equipment is notoriously expensive, and often out of reach to the average home practitioner. However, while your financial situation is without a doubt crucial when considering when, how, or what to buy, it doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not you’re actually ready to make that investment. You can be living paycheck to paycheck and still mentally, if not financially, ready to make the investment. You can also be a millionaire, able to build yourself a fully-equipped home studio, but not actually be prepared for what equipment ownership means.
In my opinion, the best way to determine whether or not you are ready to invest in home equipment is whether or not you have a regular home practice. What that looks like is up to you. Maybe you have a self-guided practice, going through the classical mat series or some contemporary programming. Maybe you do video-led sessions on sites like pilatesanytime.com or onlinepilatesclasses.com. Maybe you do a little of both. What matters is that you show up in your home workout space consistently. It doesn’t matter if that’s two days a week or five; it doesn’t matter whether you work out for 20 minutes or an hour. What matters is that you have carved out some kind of consistent home practice that you stick to more often than not.
I believe that personal practice is the key factor for readiness because, if you don’t feel motivated to work out at home before you invest in equipment, no shiny reformer or tricked-out Cadillac is going to motivate you. Look at all the treadmills and ellipticals that become towel racks. Look at all the Peloton bikes that were purchased in 2020 and then went unused once people could go to in-person spin classes again. It’s not the apparatus that inspires you to get up and work out regularly; it’s the way the practice makes you feel, and your inner desire to keep refining and improving.
One of the lessons I’ve learned in my personal fitness life is to be sure before I buy that I’ll use something, especially when that something has a price tag. It’s more than just telling myself I’ll use it; I have to be able to visualize when and how I’ll put that object to good use. Fortunately, if you have an established home practice, it will be easy for you to figure out how and when you’re going to use that shiny new reformer or Wunda chair. You know the investment will be worth it, because you’ve already given yourself the foundation of consistent home practice on days when you’re not taking a class or working one-on-one with an instructor. So if you find yourself eyeing some serious Pilates equipment online, take stock of what your practice currently looks like, and define the specific ways the equipment will serve your home practice. Then you can begin to work out budgets, space requirements, and other factors before making a final decision.
While I’ve initially configured this as a four-part series, I love talking about home equipment, and am happy to create further posts on the subject. Drop your questions on home equipment below, and I’ll turn them into future articles!