Tips for buying used Pilates equipment

This post is the second in a four-part series about investing in home equipment as a Pilates practitioner. Future posts will take a deep dive into the DIY approach. 

While most of my equipment is handmade, I’m also a fan of buying used when possible. For example, while I hope to own a classical Wunda chair within the next two years, right now, I have a contemporary low chair that I got for $50 on Facebook Marketplace. Even though it’s not my dream piece of equipment, it gets the job done, and was still in great shape when I got it. Buying used can help save money, and it’s also great for the environment, but there are things to keep in mind if you plan to furnish part or all of your home studio on the used market.

Decide on your budget. Pilates equipment retains its value. Used equipment isn’t as expensive as new, but the fact that I got a Pilates chair in good shape for only $50 is amazing, and not a standard experience. While used prices have improved a little since they shot up in 2020, you can still expect to shell out four figures for a reformer that’s in good shape.

Familiarize yourself with a standard equipment setup. Most Pilates teachers are diligent about maintaining their equipment, but even with careful tending, things can become lost or broken over time. I find this is especially true of equipment that has been in gyms rather than dedicated Pilates studios. Know what kinds of accessories, springs, or other components should be included. There’s nothing wrong with buying a Cadillac that’s missing a roll-back bar, but you don’t want to pay top dollar for an incomplete apparatus.

Be willing to do some maintenance and/or repairs. I recommend that if you are buying any spring-based apparatus used, you replace the springs before using it. (The exception would be if the seller can verify they replaced them recently.) Springs are a consumable part, and you need them to be in good condition. Wooden equipment might need to be oiled; cracked vinyl might need to be replaced. If you are willing and able to put in a little effort, you might get a better price on equipment that needs some TLC. The chair I bought needed new springs and to have the foam on the foot bar replaced, but even with that work, I still got an amazing deal.

Take your time. Since Pilates equipment holds its value so well, even used pieces should be considered investments. Let yourself be patient as you search for the right piece. It’s better to have your time and find something that really meets your needs than to have equipment you don’t love. My contemporary chair might not be my dream piece, but I still enjoy working out on it. When I do get the classical chair of my dreams, I still plan to keep this one.

Inspect before you commit. I do not recommend prepaying for used equipment without looking at it first. You want to be able to touch it and look the whole thing over, especially if you’re shelling out for a full-fledged reformer or Cadillac. This principle works the other way as well. I almost passed on my contemporary chair because the photos were not great. But it was nearby and so inexpensive that it was worth checking out, and I’m glad I did. Not everyone knows how to put together a polished sales listing, but that doesn’t mean the equipment isn’t quality.

While the next two posts focus on the DIY approach, I am happy to talk more about buying used equipment, or anything else related to building a home studio. Drop your questions on home equipment below, and I’ll turn them into future articles!

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