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Want to Start Yoga, Pilates, or Barre? Things You NEED, and Things You Don’t

Yoga, pilates, and barre are all excellent full body workouts that promote flexibility, strength, and breathing technique. Each of these workouts were great throughout my pregnancy and postpartum (*discuss with your doctor any exercise, and always take modifications when needed!) One thing that makes any of these classes/exercises great is the welcoming of modifications based on your body. There is something reassuring about hearing that it’s okay if you can’t do a certain move one day. You work towards it, or accept that today your body doesn’t allow it. When I had awful diastitis recti after our second child, that meant barely moving during “core” portions in pilates. And it was fine! There were countless similar experiences in any of these classes. That’s why I recommend them to so many people.

And if you can’t afford a gym membership, YouTube is amazing. There are tons of videos out there! Personally, I like in-person classes, but some days an at home workout is perfect. These classes also are WAY easier to do at home with our two little ones around. 

The other reason I like these classes? They require minimal equipment. Not even shoes.  Really. I’m going to walk through the things you need and several that you don’t. Some of the things you don’t I still own, or are on my wish list. But after several years, if it’s still on my wish list, you definitely don’t need it. These all make the “nice to have” list though.

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What You Need to Start Pilates, Barre, or Yoga

Since the moves are low-impact, you don’t need the perfect sports bra with all the bells and whistles. A simple sports bra is fine. I’m a 36DDD and trust me, running sports bras are a different story! For yoga, barre, or pilates, any basic sports bra will do. I tend to get budget options here and save my high impact ones for HIIT or Running. At other times, I like the C9 by Champion sports bras at Target. You could also check out secondhand stores, like Goodwill or Thredup.

image via Target

you will need a yoga mat if you plan to do at home yoga or pilates and core portions of barre. The cushion of the mat will help protect your joints throughout practice. Get one that is at least 6mm thick, these shouldn’t set you back more than $30. Personally I don’t like the really thick mats, because it feels “too squishy,” so I prefer the 6mm or 2/5″ options. The one I’ve linked is my exact mat. I’ve had it for 3 years and it looks untouched, despite constant use. And it’s currently $24 on Amazon or $29.99 directly on the Gaiam website (cost may vary based on your date of purchase.) so that’s a win. Also, while many gyms have their own yoga mats, you don’t know how sanitary these are. I typically do a combination of using the gyms and using my own. Depending on whether it’s worth it to bring another thing with me – but more on that in a second. 

image via Gaiam

A yoga carrying sling may not seem a necessity if you work out at home, but this style of sling can act as your carrying sling and yoga strap. A strap is needed for helping extend in various positions (I still use one occasionally if I’m feeling stiff on a particular day). The sling also qualifies as a need for me because when I bring my mat to the gym, I don’t have any extra arms. I hold both kiddos in each hand, and have a gym backpack. To get my yoga mat anywhere with both kids I need a hands-free/arms-free way to carry it in. A yoga sling also makes storing a yoga mat easier since it keeps the mat tightly rolled up so it is useful for everyone. I went for the Gaiam Easy Cinch strap since I liked my mat so much. It’s currently $9.98 on Amazon or directly on Gaiam. I purchased the sling/strap about a month after the mat and wish I had it from the very start. 

image via Gaiam


Psssst, you really can use ANY athletic bottoms to do barre, yoga, or pilates. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably be in some poses that have your legs open. So you do want something that offers full coverage of your….ahem, crotch. Personally, I prefer to wear athletic leggings to all of these classes. Don’t worry, there are lots of budget options. 

My favorite yoga leggings are from Sam’s Club! I could go on a rave about these ALL DAY LONG. Anything by their Tangerine brand is amazing. I’ve seriously been blown away by the quality of mine. I have five bottoms (3 capri length, 2 full length) and they each cost under $15. I swear the material is so soft and sturdy you’d think these worth $50+ each. If you don’t have a Sam’s Club membership, ThredUp can be a great option, especially if you want to find discount Lululemon. Walmart’s Danskin brand is also affordable and well made. My college town pretty much only had Walmart, and I was blown away by how well those pieces have lasted. I’ve got one pair of leggings that is at least 6 years old and still in great condition.

Related Video – 5 Reasons Why Sam’s Club is Better Than Costco

Related Offer – Get a $20 Gift Card When You Join Sam’s Club

image via Sam's Club

don't need this. (but some are nice to have...)

In every pilates class I’ve been to in the past year, the class uses pilates rings to add in extra resistance. However, my instructor also reminds us that we don’t have to use the rings. The moves are definitely easier without the rings. Though come to think of it, maybe that’s why I haven’t made a ring a priority. Hmmm…..

image via Target

There are allllll sorts of fancy mat sprays available. Many claim to have additional benefits including aromatherapy. While keeping a mat sanitary is important, just about any cleaner (including my 3 ingredient household cleaner) will work just fine. My gym also has wipes readily available, so no need to schlepp that extra item with you there either. That said, I do love aromatherapy sprays, so I’m curious if it would add to the experience of any of pilates or yoga. 

image via Amazon

I’ve seen these referenced as barre socks, as yoga socks, and as pilates socks. But basically these are specialty socks that have lots of little grips to help you hold tight to the ground. These seem nice, especially in a class like hot yoga where your mat gets a little slippery. But these socks just don’t seem necessary. After all, you want to teach your feet to grip from all four corners.

image via Amazon

before anyone gets mad at me, I do own a yoga block, and do think that something that gives you extra height/stability is important for yoga. BUT, I think that you can get a similar effect from a thick book if you’re truly just starting out at home. Of course, if you go to an in-person class and decide you want a block, they are definitely nice to have. I own one but would like to get a second. 

image via Target

remember that yoga sling/strap I showed you? Get one of those because it can also act as a strap! A yoga sling, while useful for carrying a mat, only offers that one function. I’d even recommend a plain drawstring backpack over a yoga sling, because it can be used for other items than just a yoga mat specifically. Maybe it’s because I like multi-functional items, but it seems silly to just do one thing. 

image via Amazon

Savasana. It’s the main reason I practice yoga. Just kidding! But it IS a great way to end class. For those who aren’t familiar, savasana is the final pose where you rest. You lie there and either just relax or meditate. People sometimes fall asleep, and I’ve certainly come close. There are weighted eye pillows that are more common in yoga studios. These put a slight amount of pressure on the eyes and forehead that help you relax even deeper in this final pose. The lavender (or other scent) helps you relax further still. I have tried using a towel, but it’s not as nice as these little pillows. At $15 a pop, they seem pretty pricey for a nice smelling packet of rice…or whatever is inside. But I still want one. 

image via Gaiam

The things I love about barre, yoga, and pilates are that they are friendly to all, easy enough to learn, easily modified, empowering, and they don’t require shoes. It’s always a fun time when I take any of these classes (and I do multiple times a week!) Hopefully this creates a good idea of what’s needed, and what’s just extra. Namaste 🙂

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