Can You Do Pilates Without A Reformer?


You asked us: can you do Pilates without a reformer? Yes! Of course, you can do Pilates without a reformer. Not only is it do-able but it’s also our personal preference to do mat pilates over reformer exercises. Don’t get us wrong, we love reformer Pilates classes, however, they’re not quite as accessible as mat Pilates. 

We love the fact that you can just roll out a yoga mat, press play on an online Pilates class and do Pilates. No need for equipment, not even a resistance band, no drive to the Pilates studio and a whole lot more cost effective. 

Pilates was invented and developed by Joseph Pilates back in the early 20th century. He developed exercises that used body weight and then also various apparatus. Pilates, although it has evolved and changed over the years, continues to grow in popularity. It’s an amazing full body workout that increases strength, flexibility, mobility and promotes better posture. 

If you’re ready to experience Pilates without a reformer, it’s time to try some of our favourite mat Pilates exercises!

5 Pilates exercises to try with no equipment 


All 4s, bent knee lift

All 4s exercises have got to be some of our most favourite movement patterns. There are many variations and in our MerryBody Pilates workouts we like to stack them to create the ultimate booty burn!

  1. The starting position is on hands and knees, wrists under shoulders, knees under hips. Abdominal muscles are engaged, draw the belly button inwards and up. Keeping a rib to hip connection. 
  2. Flex the left foot, inhale to prepare and then exhale to lift your leg. Be mindful to keep your knee bent in the same 90 degree angle. Ensure to squeeze the booty and hamstring. 
  3. Inhale to lower and then repeat 20 times. End with 20 top half pulses then swap to the other side. 


Plank mountain climbers

Oh my, are you ready to get hot and a little sweaty? This move is tough! It can be a real challenge but there are always ways to modify it. Whether you go slow, you take breaks or even drop the knees and hold a kneeling plank position. 

  1. Set up your plank, wrists under shoulders, extend legs back, toes on the ground and press weight back into heels. Draw core inwards. 
  2. Inhale to prepare and exhale, draw the right knee into the chest, extend the right leg straight back, toes on the ground and swap to the left side.
  3. Go as slow as you need. Or speed it up if you want a cardio workout too! Repeat for 10. Have a little break, do another 10.
  4. Try this 8 minute Planking Pilates Class now! It’s available now on our YouTube Channel!


Side plank with raised leg

Here we go again! Another inner heat creating move for you to try out! If you have dodgy shoulders we do not recommend this move. But if you’re feeling strong and healthy give it a go and add this to your Pilates practice! 

  1. Start off in a regular plank position, wrists under shoulders, toes on the earth, pressing the weight back. Carefully draw your weight over to the left hand and lift the right arm high. Draw belly button in and up. Stack the feet, or stagger so both are on the mat. 
  2. Inhale to prepare and exhale lift your right leg (top leg). Point the toes. And hold for 10 breaths. 
  3. Carefully return to your regular plank and swap to the other side. 


Scissor abs

Ohhhh, another move that will welcome the fire! A great exercise that will strengthen the abs and stretch the hamstrings. There is a modification to leave the head and shoulders down, just as effective, maybe even better as you can really focus on holding the core with integrity. 

  1. Start off by laying on the back, bending the knees and lifting legs to table top. Extend legs high towards the sky. 
  2. Inhale to prepare and exhale reach towards the right leg, lifting head and shoulders at the same time. Wrap hands around the right leg and drop the left leg low towards the ground.
  3. Keeping upper body and head lifted, swap the legs to create a scissor motion. Exhaling each time you swap. Inhaling each time you hold a leg. Repeat for 20. 
  4. You might need to pull your knees in towards your chest and give yourself a cuddle after this! 


Standing Splits

We’ve chosen all the challenge Pilates moves for this list! We love this move as it’s the ultimate move to work on both flexibility and strength. The modification is to do the same leg movements but in an All 4s position.

  1. Start standing, inhale to prepare and exhale roll down forward, bone by bone, fingertips hit the ground. Relax head and shoulders.
  2. Micro bend the right knee, inhale to prepare, exhale lift the left leg behind you, really extend your leg back. Point your toes. Take the bend out of the moving leg. Focus on squeezing the booty and hamstring.  
  3. Inhale to lower the leg, tap the ground and exhale to lift again. Repeat 20 times, then finish with 20 high pulses. Swap.

How to find the perfect class for you!

If you did all these Pilates exercises one after another you would create one heck of a great workout! But you can also easily find a Pilates class you love. Whether that is in a real life studio or in your lounge room with the best online Pilates class!

The right class is out there for you. You just need to look for it!

If you’re more of a Pilates traditionalist we’d recommend to find a teacher in the Classical style, however, if you’re after a bit more fun and energy we’d recommend a more modern style.

And this is where we tell you about our MerryBody Pilates classes! The best part, you can try one for free right now!


Our Pilates classes don’t require any equipment, we do use hand weights in some classes but they are always optional. 

You can choose from Yoga, Barre, Yin Yoga, Fusion and Pilates mat classes. Right now we have over 400 classes available, with a new class added each and every week!

We have class lengths ranging from less than 10 minutes to over 30 mins, plus we have Class Stacks for when you have extra time! 

There is an amazing search function where you can easily search for a beginner, intermediate or challenge class. You can even search to work a certain area of the body. 

Feel like a 10 minute abs class? Find it in just a few clicks! 

But really the best part of the MerryBody App, is the amazing community. Just because we are online does not mean there is no interaction or community time. In fact, there is probably more! We do weekly technique tutorials inside our MB community PLUS when you join you not only have us by your side, you have a whole group of encouraging and uplifting members cheering you on. It really is like a family. 

One last thing and the most important! We link up our Pilates practice to a self-acceptance practice. And oh wow, in a world of diet culture, 6 week shreds, detox diets, this is absolutely life changing!

Sign up for this free 20 minute mat class, you will experience an amazing ab, booty and thigh workout. We have no doubt that after the class you will feel amazing! 

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

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