I tried a 15-minute wall Pilates workout — here are my honest thoughts

a woman performing a wall sit
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I love the way that Pilates challenges my body, more specifically the way it helpe me to improve my core strength, flexibility, balance, and overall body awareness. However, Pilates can be an expensive hobby to keep up with, especially if you're like me and both pay monthly fees for a gym membership and spend money on one of the best running apps to access training plans. This means I often try and practise Pilates at home. And that is how I came across wall Pilates.

I spoke with Abby McLachlan, Pilates Teacher & Founder of East of Eden about wall Pilates and she explained that it's simply traditional Pilates exercises done against a wall to add resistance. So think of your favorite Pilates exercises for strengthening your core but your body is pushing against a wall.

She added, “It’s super low-impact, you only need a yoga mat and a wall, so it involves no expensive classes or equipment,” she added, “It’s also great for beginners and can offer all the benefits of Pilates — core strength, flexibility, better posture, spine.”

Eager to find out what a wall Pilates workout would feel like, I rolled out my best yoga mat in my apartment and tried out a 15 minute wall Pilates session. Here’s what happened.

15-minute full body wall Pilates

I wanted something that wouldn't take up a lot of time but would target more than one area of my body. That's when I stumbled across a 15 minute Wall Pilates routine designed by certified personal trainer Jenna Collins.

Using the wall as a force of resistance Collins has put together a varied sequence of exercises that target the lower body, core and arms. There are no repeats in this workout and you work for 40 seconds on each move followed by 20 seconds of rest, so you have time to rest your muscles.

It offers a solid workout

When McLachlan mentioned that wall Pilates is great for beginners, I assumed this would be a pretty easy 15 minutes of exercise. My ego was wrong. Having entered this full body wall Pilates session with some delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in my lower body after a recent weights session, I immediately felt the impact working against a wall can have on your Pilates practice.

For example, one of the first exercises in the routine involves pushing your feet against the wall and performing a hip thrusting movement. Pushing against the wall helped to enhance the activation of the glutes, particularly the gluteus maximus, which is responsible for hip extension. I also could feel my core muscles being worked as I tried to maintain stability and control during the hip thrust movement. 

I quite liked battling against the wall to complete the exercises, maintain good form and feel my muscles working hard.

Positioning is important

Wall exercises don't pop up in my usual exercise regime very often. When I was younger I liked to use a wall to practice my handstands. But flinging myself into an upside down position doesn't have as big an appeal to me as it used to. So, wall Pilates seemed like a nice and low impact way to exercise with a wall in my apartment.

I had to pause the workout video a few times to make sure I was positioning myself the same way as Collins, the instructor was. Sometimes it felt like my butt was too close or too far away from the wall so I had to experiment a bit with each exercise and make sure to emulate Collins' form as best as possible. 

The exercises, where I had to kneel and press the lower half of my legs against the wall felt painful on my knees. If you are trying out a wall Pilates routine that involves kneeling down and pushing your lower body against the wall, I would recommend doubling up on yoga mats or just make sure you have a softer surface underneath your mat. I completed the routine on top of a thick yoga mat but the mat was resting over a hard wooding flooring and this placed unwanted pressure on the balls of my knees as I tried to move through certain exercises.

It's a great way to practice Pilates at home

As I mentioned above, Pilates can be an expensive hobby to maintain. Being able to roll out a mat in my own apartment and use one of my walls to add an extra force of resistance into my at-home Pilates practice for free felt like a bit of a win. I genuinely felt like I had challenged my muscles after the 15 minutes was up and the feelings in my muscles compared to how I have felt coming out of a 45 minute traditional Pilates class before. To help achieve this, I made sure to slow my movements down in the routine and make sure to spend time under tension in order to challenge my muscles effectively.

I can't say I think the wall replaces a reformer machine but the wall does provide support and resistance. If you have tried a reformer Pilates class before then don't expect to feel the same effect when you try out wall Pilates. However, wall Pilates can help with alignment in your practice and offers a full body workout.

More from Tom's Guide

Back to Yoga Mats
Any Price
Showing 10 of 94 deals
Load more deals
Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.