If you have attended one of our Pilates classes you will be familiar with small Pilates props and how they can transform your home Pilates practice. Small equipment can be a great way to increase the challenge in particular exercises and help support you in others.
Here are a few of the pieces of equipment we use in classes and how they may help your own workouts.
Resistance bands come in a variety of lengths and strengths (The strength of the band is usually indicated by its colour) A light resistance band, usually yellow or red, is great for arm strength work such as seated rowing movements but the lighter resistance band can also provide feedback in exercises such as the cat stretch when placed over the mid back.
The stronger resistance bands such as green or blue, aid movements such as hamstring stretches and add resistance into exercises such as clams, making the exercise far more challenging. Resistance bands also come in loops, making the movements less faffy if you are needing to tie and un-tie the band between exercises.
Soft Pilates Ball
The soft Pilates ball, also known as the overball, is generally used to add instability into exercises such as supine work (lying on your back), keep alignment and to aid spinal movements. When doing supine work the ball is great under the tailbone. This will add both instability but it also enables a deeper connection to the abdominal muscles. We also love to use the ball in standing work such as under the heel bone to increase the balance challenge in standing but it can also be positioned between the ankles to stop them rolling out at the top of a rise, creating an engagement around the surrounding muscles. If you struggle with movements such roll ups, the ball can help aid the flexion of the lumber back to assist the roll up to sitting.
Hand and ankle weights
In Pilates we generally use weights ranging from 0.5kg to 2kg. By using a light weight it allows us to keep a similar number of reps but increases both the challenge and it becomes more of a whole body integrated exercise. Using weights allows us to recreate a lot of the exercises usually completed on the reformer but on the mat. This creates a whole new repertoire of exercises not normally accessible without large equipment, such as the mid back series. If you struggle to feel leg and glute exercises without lots of repetitions, we would suggest either checking your position or adding in a small ankle weight. This can be an excellent addition in lift and lowers.
The magic circle provides a moderate amount of resistance during exercises to energise muscle groups and support in others. The circle can be placed between both the opposite hand and thigh to work the anterior oblique sling. This will also help you get a deeper abdominal connection. Bridge is another common exercise where you may see the circle being used between the thighs to get the inner thighs burning. On the other hand it can be used as an aid, such as in a plank or press up, under your chest to help support your upper body.
By squeezing gently into the circle it provides feedback into surrounding muscle. The more you squeeze the circle, the less the mind-body connection and the more the strengthening into a particular muscle group. To help you determine how much pressure should be used, think about whether the exercise should be creating more of a challenge or supporting you.
If you are wanting to add to you Pilates equipment collection, visit the APPI website and use our affiliate code 'reactivatepilates' at the checkout to get a 10% discount.