Pilates basics

7 clever substitutions for the most common Pilates props

You can find substitutions for the most common Pilates props at home.

Now that most of us have settled into a home fitness routine, we’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding what to do about props. Pilates uses quite a few for added resistance or a deeper stretch. These props have been created for a reason and your favorites might be worth investing in. However, there are some great at-home replacements that will empower you to get the most out of your practice in the meantime.

Read on for our favorite Pilates prop substitutions that can be easily found around the house. With a few simple swaps, you’ll never have to skip over a class because you don’t have what you need at home.


A Pilates mat is thicker than a yoga mat to provide more cushioning for the intense floor work. If you don’t have one, try setting up on a plush carpet, folded fluffy blanket, or several stacked towels.

Try it with: Pilates Meets Mindfulness with Mark Osmundsen

Resistance Band

The resistance band is a staple in most Mat Pilates sequences. Try substituting a pair of old tights or nylon legging by tying them into a circle of your preferred diameter. Hint: Make sure you choose an old pair that you don’t mind ruining. Using them as a resistance band will likely stretch them beyond repair.

Try it with: Back Body Pilates with Kit Rich


If you are on a carpeted floor, consider using paper plates or even large plastic lids (like those that cover food storage containers). If you are on a wood surface, try hand towels. We recommend testing these out for safety and comfort before you start your workout.

Try it with: Pilates Slow Burn with Mark Osmundsen

Foam Roller

We love foam rollers! They really help get tension out of the body and support so many of our favorite practices. They do take up space, however, so consider a rolled-up blanket, bolster, couch cushion, or even several pool noodles tied together.

Try it with: Upper Body Foam Roller Routine with Kit Rich

Hand Weights 

If you don’t have hand weights lying around, you can use canned goods or even full water bottles. We recommend checking that they are evenly balanced if you are attempting any symmetrical exercises.

Try it with: Pilates Interval Training with Kit Rich

Magic Circle

It’s tough to find a substitute for a magic circle. If you plan on diving into Pilates as your main practice, it’s something to consider investing in. In the meantime, try out a large pillow or even a large book. Just be careful not to drop it, as a book that size would be a bit heavy.

Try it with: Core Magic with Kit Rich


For anyone who is challenged by balance work, we do encourage you to hold on to something for many of the practices. Working on balance is important for building strength and flexibility, but always keep safety top of mind. Instead of a Pilates pole, consider holding on to a chair, wall, or even a broomstick (just make sure to place it on a nonslip surface).

Try it with: Pilates Barre Blend with Mark Osmundsen

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