Do You Wear Shoes for Pilates?

by Shafi Khan

Pilates is a type of exercise that is done on the mat or with the help of Reformer machines. It's designed to help build strength and flexibility, as well as improve posture, balance, and coordination. It also involves stretching muscles in your body which can lead to improved mental health.

Many people think Pilates shoes are necessary for this type of workout and often ask a common question - do you wear shoes for Pilates?

The truth is you do not wear shoes while doing, in fact, you don't need them at all. Most Pilates exercises are done barefoot but some people may choose to wear non-slip Pilates socks.

Keep reading as we discuss the benefits of barefoot Pilates, why you should not wear shoes for Pilates, and other items you can and can't carry with you.

Why No Shoes In Pilates?

You don't have to wear shoes while performing Pilates (similar to Yoga.)

Shoes can be useful for some types of activity that require jumping or running, but since Pilates is low-impact and focuses on the feet for a short period of time, they aren't required.

Pilates is usually performed on a mat or a reformer machine so you should refrain from wearing shoes as much as you can.

In mat Pilates, the majority of the exercises are completed either reclining, sitting, or kneeling on a mat. Shoes are not only unnecessary while exercising on a mat, but they might also get in the way and prevent you from performing the exercises correctly.

You must be able to fully express your feet, pointing or flexing your toes as needed during various activities. Shoes would not only slow you down, but they would also hide them from instructors who want to make sure that your feet and legs are in proper alignment and functioning.

Shoes can also get in the way of performing Pilates properly on a reformer machine. Here, you should not wear shoes since they might prevent you from using the equipment and doing the workouts correctly.

To get the most out of each Pilates exercise, your feet must be able to move freely which isn't possible if you wear shoes. However, for hygienic reasons, some Pilates studios may require you to wear special Pilates socks rather than going barefoot while using equipment like the reformer.

Moreover, a lot of the exercises require only your bare feet to perform, so if you wear shoes it can be difficult and even painful for some people.

Benefits of Barefoot Pilates

Going barefoot while doing Pilates helps to improve your overall strength, especially of the lower body.

The exercises that require squeezing and flexing your toes and feet will help you achieve a stronger center and better balance.

Moreover, just like Yoga practitioners do sun salutations which strengthen arms and legs, barefoot Pilates will also strengthen your feet and lower body.

Also, Pilates without shoes strengthens your core and helps improve your coordination and balance which leads to a strong and improved posture over time.

Not only that but if you wear the right pair of Pilates socks or barefoot, walking on the mat or reformer can help activate your lymphatic system as well as blood flow.

Wearing the right pair of socks can also protect your feet from unnecessary stress and pressure during workouts which can help them stay stronger, healthier, and pain-free over time.

What to Wear for Pilates

Instead of wearing shoes for Pilates or Yoga, it's better to practice in bare feet as much as possible. This will help strengthen your muscles, improve balance, coordination, posture, and prevent injuries.

However, if you are concerned with safety or hygiene issues during the Pilates workout classes at the gym or studio, it might be best to wear non-slip Pilates socks.

They are thin enough not to get in the way of the exercises, but they can still prevent you from slipping on the floor.

Also, since Pilates socks are made to be lightweight, they will also conserve body heat and moisture which makes them more comfortable for bare feet than other materials like leather or cotton.

Pilates socks are made of soft, stretchy material that reaches just below the ankle, allowing your instructor to assess your alignment while they don't affect performance. They're also rubberized for better grip.

Other Things To Bring With You to Pilates Classes

As we discussed in this article, there are certain items that you should not bring with you while going to Pilates classes.

However, there are also some things that you should bring with you like water or an extra pair of socks if you want to make sure that you get the most out of the workouts.

It's best to pack all of these items in a small bag so it will be easy for you to stay hydrated and prepared during the class.


Wearing shoes for Pilates is not only unnecessary, but it can actually prevent you from fully expressing your feet and legs which could limit the benefits of the workouts.

Depending on the studio rules, you may wear Pilates socks so you can avoid getting blisters or hurting your toes while exercising on a mat. It also helps if you are worried about hygiene.

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