The wide range of props and equipment in a Pilates studio can sometimes intimidate beginners, but they are all made to be accessible at every skill level. While additional equipment may take a little getting used to, props can add flexibility, variation, support, and more to your Pilates practice.
Before incorporating new accessories into your next workout, let’s take a closer look at the Pilates props and equipment you can find on our back shelves at The Body Lab:
The Ultra-Fit Circle by Balanced Body
Known to some as the “ring of fire,” we have a love-hate relationship with the Ultra-Fit Circle, made of flexible plastic with a soft, rubberized shell. Based on Joseph Pilates’ Magic Circle, his versatile and transportable exercise aid, these simple and effective tools provide total-body conditioning that can make us sweat and shake. We stock them at The Body Lab from our friends at Balanced Body, who make our reformers and chairs — we can always count on them to provide the tools we need to optimize our practices. Made with padded handles on opposite sides, the Ultra-Fit Circle offers gentle-to-moderate resistance and can be used in many ways during Pilates classes to promote good form and add a little extra ‘oomph’ to your movements.extra ‘oomph’ to your movements.
Great for home workouts and at the studio, we love Bala’s weighted Bangles. They’re as cute as they are functional, and are easy to purchase locally; stop by Free People on Church Street to pick up a set without the wait time or shipping costs of buying them online! Hook and loop fasteners allow for a no-slip fit, and Bala Bangles can be worn around wrists or ankles for total versatility.
An incredible addition to any Pilates routine, these weighted and easy-to-wear accessories can also add an extra challenge to yoga, aerobics, or even household chores. Available in either one- or two-pound options, they add the perfect amount of resistance to up the burn on all your workouts, and they come in a bunch of aesthetically pleasing colors to go with your favorite workout outfits.
The Squishy Ball
The squishy stability ball is our secret to majorly targeted muscle activation. For example, when placed under your tailbone, the ball allows for intensive core work without overly incorporating the hip flexors, and when the ball is squeezed between your knees in a bridge, your entire leg will be engaged from hamstrings all the way to inner thighs.
Because they give lots of immediate feedback, these slightly deflated squishy stability balls can help personalize your Pilates practice and even improve your form! They make great, lightweight tools for getting creative in making your workouts more effective.
Light Hand Weights
Despite their small size, these two-to-three-pound weights pack a major punch. Many reps of these lighter weights add lean muscle to arms, shoulders, and torsos, and they’re easy to store at home or take on the go. Perfect for building stamina and strength, mini barbells add just the right amount of resistance to your workouts.
In fact, doing more reps with these lighter weights actually helps get deeper into the muscle and supports the longevity of your workout routine. That means you won’t be too sore to exercise the next day, or the day after that.
Standing Platform Extender by Balanced Body
For a little extra support and balance for your standing foot, Balanced Body’s Platform Extender makes all the difference. Adding these extra inches to your platform on the Pilates reformer gives you more footing and a larger surface to work with during your session. When your instructor knows there are a lot of front lunges in-store, they’ll have this extender out and ready for your workout.
This piece of equipment can add possibility and variety to reformer workouts; bridging or front splits are made easier, forearms are better supported when kneeling, and there’s more room for targeted leg strengthening exercises. It’s an example of yet another easy-to-use tool that can help expand and amplify your Pilates practice at every level.
Hopefully this review clears up some of the mystery around our props, and you’ll be ready to take advantage of all they can add to your workout next time you’re in the studio! Of course, we’re always here to answer questions, offer suggestions, and tailor your experience to help you reach your own personal fitness and health goals, both on and off the mat.