8 of the best free pilates workouts for beginners on YouTube

8 of the best free pilates workouts for beginners on YouTube

New to pilates? Overwhelmed by the thousands of workouts online? Writer Lisa Bowman tested out online pilates workouts and picks out some to suit each mood.

With an explosion of online fitness classes popping up during the pandemic, it’s easier than ever to try new workouts at home. If you haven’t got the time or money to head to a studio class, there’s nothing better than setting up your laptop for a morning workout or evening sweat sesh. 

Pilates is having a real moment right now, and it’s as popular online as it is in studios and gyms around the country. In fact, it’s probably one of the best exercises to nail from your living room as it’s low impact and relies on correct form: spend 20 minutes of your lunch break doing pilates and you’ll soon notice the difference in the way you walk, run and carry. 

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the best free YouTube beginner pilates classes out there, with some top tips on how to do them safely. 

  • Go Chlo – Pilates for Complete Beginners (28 mins)

    Best for: total newbies 

    Aussie Chloe de Winter is a physiotherapist and master pilates instructor who decided to bring her expertise online in 2020, at the start of the pandemic. Despite being a complete beginner myself, I thought I might find this class boring, but I was wrong – it was incredibly useful. 

    If you’re a total novice, I couldn’t recommend this class more. Her instructions on engaging the right muscles are spot on – a great foundational class for beginners. 

  • Blogilates – Level One Ab Blast for Beginners (15 mins)

    Best for: developing core strength 

    American pilates and fitness instructor Cassey Ho is something of a legend in the online fitness world. She’s the creator of successful online fitness brand Blogilates, she’s the OG online pilates instructor and has been posting YouTube classes since 2009.

    This short workout isn’t just for beginners – it’s the perfect watch for when you want to brush up on the foundations of pilates. Pilates is all about form, not depth, so to reap the benefits you need to be engaging all the right muscles.

    I have a weak core, so this class was the perfect length and difficulty level to leave me feeling worked, but not over-exerted.

    Just a heads up that Cassey’s style is to have loud, thumping music in the background, so give this one a miss if that’s not your thing. 

  • Flow With Mira – Morning Pilates Flow for Beginners (25 mins)

    Best for: first thing in the morning 

    Jakarta-based Mira Hassan has been teaching pilates for over 10 years and has loads of beginner workouts on her channel – well worth a look.

    This is a beautiful flowy class to help lengthen, strengthen and energise your body after a static night’s sleep, without being so tough that you regret getting out of bed. There are plenty of modifications to suit all types of beginner bodies, so you can keep it gentle for lower-energy mornings. 

  • Jessica Valant Pilates – Pilates Basics for Beginners (10 mins)

    Best for: when you’re in a hurry 

    Californian Jessica Valant is a physical therapist and pilates instructor who’s been working with people and their bodies for over 20 years, so she knows her stuff.

    This ‘back to basics’ video is perfect for the time-poor or newbies who want to test the waters with pilates. It’s gentle, and Jessica’s instructions are really easy to follow.

    Joseph Pilates recommended that pilates should be done for at least 10 minutes a day, so you’ll still benefit from this short vid. 

  • Lottie Murphy – Post-run Abs and Stretch (20 mins)

    Best for: after a run 

    Lottie Murphy is a British pilates instructor who’s taught and practised for over 12 years. This is one of the first videos I did after dipping my toes in the world of pilates, and I come back to it regularly.

    The class is perfect for that post-run energy boost, when you’ve got some fuel left in the tank for a spot of conditioning before your stretch. The runner’s high gets me through the more challenging core work, and the video is over before I know it – a sign of a good class, I reckon. 

  • Isa-Welly – Full Body Beginner Pilates (20 mins)

    Best for: the easily distracted

    London-based West African Isa-Welly is a pilates instructor and registered nutritionist who healed her own battered ex-dancer body with movement and nutrition.

    I often find pilates boring, but Isa’s soothing voice and friendly chatter kept me engaged – much more enjoyable than some other robotic instructors. The moves were gentle but effective, and her guidance was perfect for beginners like me.

    The relaxing background music is also a welcome change from other online teachers, who add anxiety-inducing club beats. 

  • Move With Nicole – Full Body Pilates HIIT for Beginners (30 mins)

    Best for: energising

    Nicole McPherson is a former gymnast and professional dancer who now teaches pilates, yoga and HIIT, with loads of videos to choose from on her YouTube channel.

    Can’t decide between cardio or pilates? Why not do both? This workout is great for a low-impact energy boost and includes a warm-up and delicious stretch at the end.

    Nicole gives a great demo of each move after the warm-up, so you know what to expect (this part can then be skipped on subsequent watches).

    This one’s definitely on the more difficult end of ‘beginner’, so don’t be afraid to take breaks or modify.  

  • Lindywell, Pilates and Balance Living by Robin Long – Pilates for Better Sleep (11 mins)

    Californian Robin Long’s relationship with pilates began after struggling with her own body image. Deciding she wanted to pass her knowledge on and help others, she began teaching private clients online over 12 years ago, before developing her online wellness brand.

    This short and sweet pre-bed video is ideal for expelling any excess energy, while stretching out and unwinding, for – hopefully – a dreamy night’s sleep. 

How to do online pilates safely as a beginner

One of the downsides of doing YouTube workouts as a beginner is that you don’t have a teacher there to make adjustments. Luckily, Helen O’Leary, physiotherapist and clinical director of Complete Pilates, has some tips on how to stay safe.

“Make sure you’re watching someone who knows what they’re doing,” advises O’Leary.

“Check their level of training and what they specialise in. If you have an injury, have had surgery or are recovering from an illness, make sure to choose someone who understands what you are going through.

“Take your time – you’re not expected to become a pro immediately, so instead, find something that keeps your attention and challenges you in a positive way.

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“You should be able to breathe and talk through pretty much every movement. This way you know that your muscles are facilitating spine movements and stability, rather than you forcing your body into stability.

“Check in the next day with yourself – if you have a lot of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) you may have done a bit too much. Ideally, you should feel enough to know you’ve done something, but still be able to do another class (if you choose to).” 


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