Do You Need Shoes for Pilates? [Expert Answer]

Do You Need Shoes for Pilates
Do You Need Shoes for Pilates

Every occasion requires certain clothing, and so does Pilates. It is important to have comfortable clothes that doesn’t influence your movement.

But what about shoes? Runners wear sneakers, hikers wear hiking boots, so do you need shoes for Pilates?

The answer is NO, you do not need shoes for practicing Pilates. Shoes can prevent you from using various machines properly, and even when exercising on a mat, you can do it without any footwear. You should practice barefoot or in socks, depending on the requirements of your local studio.

Of course, it also depends on a room temperature, so in winter, you may want to wear socks. You can even use those with anti-slip protection, to feel safer and more stable.

Pilates is never done on the bare floor, and you will always be practicing on a mat, or on a machine, so shoes would just get in the way. Besides, it is more comfortable and relaxing without them.

Here I will tell you more about Pilates footwear and give you some ideas about what to use.

Do You Need Shoes for Pilates?

Does Pilates require shoes is frequently asked by complete beginners who have never tried it. As I already mentioned, you do not need them.

Not only shoes are not necessary, shoes can actually impair your motion. Foot alignment is extremely important when doing some exercises, and wearing shoes can cause improper posture and wrongly done poses. If that happens, you will not get the maximum benefits from your exercise.

In addition to that, your instructor can’t see your feet well and correct some movements if you are doing them in the wrong way.

Also, some types of shoes can lower the mobility of your joints, more precisely your ankles.

Shoes have a few purposes. One is to protect your feet from the ground, another is to absorb impacts or to keep your joints stable when hiking (and wearing boots). Pilates is a low impact exercise without jumping, so absorbing shocks is not necessary.

Every Pilates instructor will tell you the same, but make sure to check with your local studio about their rules about socks. Some will allow you to exercise barefoot if you feel comfortable like that, but others will require socks for hygienic reasons. Mostly, socks are not required if you are able to bring your own mat for mat Pilates.

Do You Need Shoes for a Pilates Reformer?

Now you know do you wear shoes for Pilates or not, and why. But, what about the reformer?

Shoes would just get in the way of your exercises on a reformer, especially when you have to use your feet on springs or bars. Besides, why would you wear shoes when you are not even touching the floor?

But many studios will ask you to wear socks on a reformer, both for hygienic and safety reasons.

When you sweat and your feet get wet, you could slip and injure yourself.

I would advise you to wear anti-slip socks which are also popular for yoga. I will tell you about these socks in the following chapters.

When you are not wearing shoes, you will be able to flex your ankles completely when that is necessary, and you will also feel the movement better. So, I can tell you that you definitely do not need shoes for Pilates, no matter if you practicing on a mat, or any Pilates machine.

Should You Wear Barefoot Shoes for Pilates?

First of all, we have to define barefoot shoes …

These “shoes” are not exactly classic shoes. They are a hybrid between socks and shoes. Their bottom is usually covered with very thin layer of rubber, and the upper part is like a firm and thick sock.

These shoes became popular in recent years, and some people walk around in those. Although these are much better than regular shoes, they are not necessary for Pilates. Maybe if you are practicing on grass in your back yard, but otherwise not.

Barefoot shoes are excellent for indoor contemporary dancing classes or similar activities.

Socks, more precisely Pilates socks or anti-slip socks are the way to go.

Should You Wear Socks for Pilates?

YES, you should. Although being barefoot may be more comfortable, socks are more hygienic, at least when practicing in a studio. I wouldn’t want to lay my head on a mat where someone was walking with sweaty feet, and I assume you wouldn’t either.

Besides, socks can prevent slipping, especially during warmer months when you sweat a lot. Of course, when it comes to slipping, high-quality mats are recommended, because their surface is designed in a way to maximize comfort and minimize any possible accidents.

If all this is new for you, and you are a beginner, use your regular socks until you get proper ones. During first few classes, you won’t be doing any demanding exercises and your instructor will always be there.

Do You Need Shoes for Pilates - Socks
Do You Need Shoes for Pilates – Socks

What Kind of Socks Do You Need for Pilates?

So, do you need shoes for Pilates has been answered, and do you need socks for Pilates has been answered. Now when you know that you need the latter, it is time to recommend a certain type of socks.

Pilates socks, anti-slip socks, or non-skid socks are tight fitting regular socks that have rubbery parts on soles of the feet. These rubbery parts do not cover the whole bottom of the sock, and their only purpose is to prevent you from slipping. When working out on any kind of surface, they create a lot of friction and your feet wont slide away even during the most demanding exercises.

These socks exist in various designs and price ranges, so everyone can find something they like. Some even have toes separated, like gloves for hands. Although cool, and sometimes even useful, those will annoy many people because of the unnatural feeling of something between your toes. Those fit tightly around your feet and they will not rotate around.

You can also opt for regular anti-slip socks, but make sure that they fit properly. If they are loose, your feet will move and slide inside the sock.


Do you need shoes for Pilates is something that many people ask before they join a class. The good thing is that you don’t.

Wearing shoes can mess with your mobility and foot alignment, so it is best not to have them. On the other hand, socks, especially anti-slip type, can improve your practice and make it easier for you.

Check the requirements of your local studio and ask your instructor for help if you are not sure what kind of socks would be the best for you!

By Sina

My name is Sina, and since young age, I have been passionate about sports. This website is a result of it, and my goal is to share my experience with all of you. Read more about me ....