How to Do Reformer Pilates at Home — Without a Reformer

POPSUGAR Photography | Jason Innes
POPSUGAR Photography | Jason Innes

Obsessed with reformer Pilates? Same. Though the workout itself is about a century old, it's risen in popularity in recent years thanks to its transformative capabilities without putting major stresses on the body or mind.

The Pilates reformer is a piece of equipment that typically includes a frame, a platform with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes, and pulleys. In the words of Salt Pilates founder Betsy Blumenfeld, it's "an amazing piece of equipment that enhances and assists the original Pilates mat work." It's why so many enthusiasts have flocked to reformer classes across the globe. "The spring tension [of the machine] adds additional challenge or support to each exercise," she says.

But this isn't an option you can find on the cheap — reformer workouts in Pilates studios are incredibly expensive, with some locations only offering private training for upward of $100 or more per session, depending on where you live. A good at-home reformer can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over the cost of a Peloton, and not everyone has the space.

With that in mind, you don't need a reformer. "Pilates originally began with mat work," Blumenfeld explains. "So it is easy to efficiently and effectively do Pilates without any equipment — but you can always kick things up with certain tools at home to re-create the reformer experience. The options for creative mat work without apparatuses is endless!"

That's the good news. Even better? Pilates instructors have shared many of those tools on social media, making it easy for you to mimic reformer Pilates exercises at home, depending on what you have available. Ahead, eight of those options, so you can feel all the incredible benefits of Pilates, no matter your budget.

Just remember: "Pilates is all about the connection of your body and your brain," Blumenfeld says. "The more controlled and precise you are with your movements, the better they work — with or without props!"

Resistance Bands

If you're just beginning to build your at-home exercise equipment repertoire, resistance bands are an excellent place to start, as they can be used for so many different exercises and therapeutic movements. This includes Pilates exercises, just as Pilates instructor Jody Brouwers demonstrates in this Instagram video.

"These bands can be used around your wrists to provide tension, similar to the blue spring on the reformer," Blumenfeld says. "You can do serve-a-tray arms and/or bicep curls with elbows high, bending your hands in toward the shoulders while in a seated, standing, squatted, or kneeling position."

click to play video

Slider Discs

Slider discs are one of the most tried-and-true ways to do a Pilates reformer-style workout wherever you are. Most sliders, such as the Gaiam Core Sliding Discs ($10), have two sides that allow you to use them on either a slick floor surface like hardwood, tile, or concrete, or rough surfaces like carpet or grass.

The sliding motion the discs provide can mimic the sliding of the reformer carriage, giving you infinite Pilates combinations.

"One of the simplest moves you can replicate with slider discs is plank to pike," says Blumenfeld. With the discs under your toes, begin in plank position, either on your hands or elbows. "Pike your hips up using your core, maintaining contact between your feet and the discs, using the sliding motion to bring your feet closer to your face as your hips move up toward the ceiling." For an advanced variation, try raising one leg so you perform the move with one leg at a time.

Or try a full slider-based workout like this one with Pilates instructor Margaret Elizabeth.

Rowing Machine

If you have a gym membership, consider using a rower for some Pilates-style exercises, as TikTok user @hellooliviablog demos in this clip.

As for doing this at home, if you're not ready to invest in a reformer because you feel limited to one type of workout (or you think you don't have the space), consider a rowing machine. Or check out the LIT Method Rowing Machine, which combines a rower with a resistance-band training system, making it like a reformer itself.

"The rowing machine could be cool for lunges," says Blumenfeld. With one front foot on the ground and the other foot or knee on the seat, slide the seat in and out; try lateral and reverse lunges. You can also do slider moves with your back leg on the seat, bending in and out (sometimes called a scooter), as well bicep curls using the rower handle while in a seated position on the rower, she says.

Office Chair
Andrea Marcellus

Office Chair

You can get really creative with at-home workouts, and you'd be surprised at what you could turn into a Pilates apparatus. In fact, we have a full-body Pilates workout routine using an office chair in a way that's similar to a reformer's sliding carriage.

"A rolling desk chair can be used for a lot!" says Blumenfeld. "With your hands on the chair and feet on the ground, you can try a plank series with mountain climbers, leg lifts, plank to pike, etc. You could put your feet on the seat of the chair and do push-up to pikes; you could stand with your knee bent resting on the seat and drag the chair in and out for inner-thigh work."

Foam Roller

If you have a foam roller, you can use that to re-create some Pilates reformer moves at home or at the gym. "Try doing planks with your legs on a foam roller (for moves like knee tucks and pikes) to add dynamic movement," suggests Blumenfeld.

This TikTok from Pilates instructor Amanda Blauer features some straightforward ways you can use a foam roller for Pilates exercises. You can typically find a good, basic foam roller for about $25 or less, like the Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller ($17).

click to play video


You may not have a rolling office chair, a foam roller, a rower, or sliders, but there's one thing that can be used for at-home Pilates reformer moves that you most definitely have at home: towels.

"You can use a towel in lieu of a slider disc," Blumenfeld explains. Any slider workouts can be used in this case, with the substitution of a washcloth or small towel (particularly if you have smooth or hardwood floors).

Try this 30-minute at-home Class Fitsugar workout with Pilates instructor Khetanya Henderson to be guided through a full workout using towels.


Like Tanara on TikTok says, "Everybody's so creative!" But, truly, this is one of the more creative takes. If you have a skateboard (like Pilates and barre instructor Callie Jardine shows here) or an ab dolly (like Body Rock Pilates also shows on Instagram), you can replicate the moving "carriage" of the reformer for certain moves, particularly standing exercises.


Whether you have a broom, a Swiffer, or something similar, you can use this common household item for Pilates moves.

"Hold a broomstick with hands shoulder-width apart, all four fingers on the same side," says Blumenfeld. "Energetically pull apart the broom to engage your lats and back muscles — this helps to connect your arms into your powerhouse (core!). From there, you can do arm raises, the hundreds, bicep curls, chest presses, etc. You can also use a broomstick to make your squats and lunges more challenging, while engaging your core further."