Pilates is amazing because you can literally do it anywhere and with absolutely nothing but yourself! You don’t even need a mat if desperate times call for desperate measures and you are stuck without one. In saying that, there are some accessories that can enhance your workout so I thought I would run though a few of my favourites.
Obviously a Pilates Mat is ideal for comfort when you work out on hard or uncomfortable surfaces. I like mats with a little extra thickness so my hips and tailbone have more cushioning. Try a few out and see what works for you.
Magic Circle or Pilates Ring
This soft rubber ring provides resistance and helps to improve muscle strength throughout the body. I like to place the ring between my ankles during ab workouts for an extra challenge. The Pilates Ring can also be used to strengthen the upper body when doing exercises that focus on the legs or abs. Just use the arms to squeeze the Pilates Ring together, slow to start and then finish with quick little pulses. You can also use the ring to assist with stretching. A great one is a hamstring stretch – just extend the legs straight toward the ceiling, take both feet inside the ring and pull down with an understand grip.
These bands come in different intensity levels and can come with or without handles. You need to be really careful with these bands – unfortunately I have seen some fling back and hit people in the face! Try a few private or group Pilates sessions before you use these on your own. This will ensure you are confident with the exercises and comfortable with how the bands work. I like to add resistance bands around my legs during exercises like Clam, and also use the bands to tone the arms (e.g tricep pull backs).
This little ball is amazing! You can deflate it, fold it up, and stick it in your handbag if you like! I use the ball between my legs during abdominal work, or under the feet in exercises like Pelvic Curl to challenge balance and fire up the stabilising muscles. The Mini Ball is also great for stretching – try popping it under the shoulder blades and lie back for deep chest expansion stretch.
A Foam Roller is traditionally used to massage and stretch out your muscles, but it can also be used in various pilates exercises. I like to use mine under my feet and roll in and out using the core. Make sure you use your roller on an exercise mat so that it won’t slip and you have maximum control.
Pilates equipment is readily available these days. You can pick most items up very cheap at places like Kmart, but the quality improves in most good fitness stores.
Have you used any Pilates equipment? What’s your favourite?