Tiny Home Pilates Studio Build for our Bus Conversion – S04E09

Committing to convert a bus and to travel full-time confronted me (Mela) with a challenging obstacle - what would happen to my Pilates Studio in Los Angeles?  I chose to sell my studio in order to pursue this dream of travel and a different kind of lifestyle. It’s hard to give up something you have worked so hard on, but I do believe we should evolve and keep growing. My plan is to open up a studio again when we eventually find a place to settle down. But in the meantime, as a Pilates teacher/addict/devotee it was high up on my wishlist for the bus to have a Mini Pilates Studio inside this tiny home.

We have already shown you the Wunda Chair, a wonderful piece of apparatus that Joe Pilates designed with springs for resistance, that will also function as Don’s chair for his desk (just as Joe Pilates intended with this design). I have a few other small pieces like the raised mat, spine corrector, foot corrector and more, but I craved more springs.  There are 2 larger pieces of apparatus with springs in the Pilates method, the Reformer and the Cadillac, which offer a large number of the exercises in the Pilates method. Neither would work in the bus.

The Cadillac however has been modified into a Wall Unit or Tower.  It offers the opportunity for it to take up less space as you could pack away the “mat” part of it and then it only occupies space for the poles. The wall unit, as it is, still would not fit into our bus, the way it connects from the floor to the wall, so we chose to further modify the poles to fit from the floor to the ceiling. PLUS in a tiny home everything must serve a dual purpose, so we positioned it under the ceiling hatch so it can also act as a ladder for us to climb out onto our rooftop deck. 

We had the foot and header parts for the wall unit already, plus all the springs, push through bar and roll back bar that allow you to do the exercises.  What we needed to figure out was how to connect and cut the poles, make holes for the eye bolts (that you connect the springs to) and create rungs to turn it into a ladder.

We started out by buying galvanized steel pipes and tees for plumbing from the hardware store. The problem we ran into with these was that the tees were threaded and required us to cut our pipes to size and thread the ends to fit into the tees so we could build ladder rungs. All these separate small pipes and connections (at the tees) made for weak links and not something that felt sturdy enough to put your body weight into.

With a little more searching we were able to special order tees which are fastened with a hex tool, rather than with threading, to the poles.  These are commonly used in scaffolding, rails and fitness equipment. This way we could use one long pole on either side and still attach our rungs to the tees.  This made for a much more secure structure.

Don used a pipe cutter to cut 10 ft plumbing pipes to size and a drill press to make holes for the eyebolts (which you connect the springs to).  I measured the height of the eye bolts from a Gratz Industries Cadillac.  Having the springs at the correct height and width are important for the exercises to work correctly.  My springs and accessories for the tower come from Gratz and Contrology of Balanced Body. The only other manufacturer I’d recommend for parts (in the US) is Pilates Lineage. Other manufacturers may be cheaper but do not fit Classical Pilates standards.

It was cheaper to buy eye bolts from the hardware store than from the Pilates manufacturer, but we couldn’t find the correct size.  We ended up buying 4 inch eye bolts and cutting them down to size and threaded them down all the way to the eye to fit. 

We secured the original top ¾ inch wood panel into the ceiling metal beam with wood to metal screws. We kept this original piece from the apparatus as the bus ceiling is curved and we needed to connect the poles to a flat surface. For the floor piece however we removed the wood panel (as in a tiny home this would just be something to stub your toe on) and secured the foot directly into our floors with pronged T-Nuts.

I found folding wall mounted hooks to hang my Spine Corrector up on the wall. These are super handy in a small space so as not to bump your shoulder or poke your eye as you can just fold them out the way when not in use. I’m sure we’ll find more uses for these in the bus too!

I have quite a few smaller pieces of Pilates apparatus that need to be stored somewhere plus the Pilates Mat which is used for the Tower. These will be cleverly stored under our Murphy Bed while not in use.


Up Next
We build our custom Murphy bed with storage underneath.

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Folding Wall Mounted Hooks
Sturdy and durable Folding Coat Hook made of high quality aluminum material. Will hold a maximum weight of 33Ib. We used a wood to metal screw to install the hook directly into the bus metal beam.


Galvanized Steel Pipes  
These pipes are traditionally used for water lines. We bought 10 ft pipes and cut them down to size for our poles in the Pilates Tower and ladder rungs.


Three-Socket Tee
Galvanized iron pipe fitting has a tensile strength of more than 50,000 lb. Manufactured per international standards for durability and corrosion resistance. Features quality set screws with anti rust coating. Fitting builds with no welding required; pipe cutters and a standard hex tool are usually the only tools needed.

By Mela & Don

Mela and Don are sharing their journey as they make conscious decisions to live a more healthy, environmentally friendly life together.

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