Here at Alive Pilates, we run a full class program using small hand weights, small balls and resistance bands (Small Pilates Props) to further enhance and develop your core whilst performing the classic pilates moves.
I am excited to announce that as from January 2019 I will be adding another fabulous small prop to our family.
The Pilates Magic Circle. (or ‘steering wheel as one of my 1-2-1 clients called it!)
The magic circle is a Pilates tool created by founder Joseph Pilates that’s intended to help practitioners find their core/centre. It’s nothing to do with actual magic, and it’s also referred to as a fitness circle, exercise ring, and a fitness ring, but “magic circle” is still the preferred name within Pilates. It is said that Joseph Pilates made the first magic circle from the ring of an old beer keg.
It’s intended as a secondary prop, and any Pilates exercises can be done without a magic circle. But since they’re lightweight and inexpensive, and have a variety of purposes within a Pilates practice, they’ve grown to become popular props.
What Is a Magic Circle?
The Pilates magic circle is a ring, usually made of flexible metal or rubber, about 14 inches in diameter, with small pads on either side. It provides gentle to moderate resistance in an exercise. It also gives the body feedback about which muscles are being used. The magic circle is not intended to provide a big resistance challenge. Users shouldn’t pick one up and try to crush it together (although that’s usually the first inclination).
Think of the Magic Circle as an eager assistant helping the core to become more efficient in its job and helping you accomplish greater results. If you feel tension outside the core (ie; neck tension), or you become more aware of the Ring than the center of your body, you are probably devoting too much of your strength to the ring and will miss out on some of the benefits of the exercise being taught. When used properly, you will find the ring a great tool for deepening your workout.
Here’s some of the ways it can be used…
- When placed between the palms of hands, the ring is also a useful tool for showing clients how to organise their upper body efficiently and create space in their chest. This is an area that gets tight from hunching over a desk at work or through too much chest-focused gym work. These habits are ingrained in people today and this makes them tricky to undo – but the magic ring can be effective on this front.
- When placed between ankles or thighs, for instance, the resistance from the ring is great for strengthening inner thighs and activating the pelvic floor.
- Squeezed between hands, this ring is an effective way of building arm, chest arm and shoulder strength.
- When placed between your hands behind your back for extension exercises, like dart, the ring shape supports your chest opening. Squeezing on the ring as you move into extension means that the tension creates a further challenge to the movement and strengthens your back muscles.
- If you notice your legs roll inwards when you bridge, slide the ring over the outside of your legs and bring it to just above your knees. Press gently into the ring as you move into your bridge. This fires up your side glutes and outer thigh.
- If you notice your legs rolling inwards as you bridge, pop the ring inside your thighs above your knees and give it a gentle squeeze as you bridge up. This will work your inner thighs and pelvic floor.
I am really excited to be bringing this into our classes, I think you are going to love it as much as the balls!
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