If you’ve ever seen a Pilates reformer, then you know why they can be intimidating. With straps, springs, and lots of moving parts, those things look like medieval torture devices. And while the machines definitely benefit your Pilates practice by offering resistance and support, it’s way easier (and just as effective) to do certain moves on a mat.
“One of the most amazing things about Pilates is that it is so effective with just your body weight or small props, so you can do it at home, in a hotel room, at the park, in the car, waiting in line—I literally do it everywhere,” says Erika Bloom, certified Pilates teacher and founder of Erika Bloom Pilates Plus.
Here, Bloom demos the best 18 moves you can do without a reformer. These exercises aren’t just pulled from the classic mat repertoire; they’re adapted for the mat from reformer choreography, so they go above and beyond a typical mat Pilates class or video.
Keep in mind that Pilates is supposed to be done very slowly and deliberately, so don’t rush through these moves. It’s all about control, not muscle exhaustion or speed of reps, so take your time and connect to your breath. “One of the most important Pilates principles is the idea that the breath is coordinated with core engagement,” Bloom says. “Breathe into the diaphragm, then on the exhale, wrap the lower abs around the body like there’s a magnet between the spine and belly button.” Think of it like cinching up …