In my thirst for more exercise knowledge and experience, I've been trying a lot of interesting types of fitness classes, exercises styles, and workout equipment. Recently, I got my hands on a little toy I'd seen many times before, but had never had the opportunity to use: a Pilates ring, also sometimes called a "magic circle", which seemed to be the most innocuous bit of exercise equipment I've ever seen. To be honest, Pilates classes still intimidate me, which is the main reason I had yet to use some of the props and equipment you'd see in a typical Pilates class. Now that I have an Infinito Pilates ring, though, I know how much I'm missing!
Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review. As always, all opinions expressed herein are my own.
This deceptively simple little circle is incredibly versatile: I found ways to incorporate it into almost any workout! The ring is flexible, made of a metal core with rubber coating, and has pads on two ends that cushion on both the inside and outside of the circle. My first instinct was to squeeze it - between my hands, between my legs, under my feet, under my head, everywhere! Turns out, every one of those instincts was spot-on. Though the ring doesn't offer much by way of weight-like resistance, holding it in any number of places with a slight squeeze during your workout can activate additional muscles to maximize your efforts; conversely, in another location that squeeze can take some of the pressure off the active muscles so you are less likely to fatigue. For example, you may choose to squeeze the ring between your legs while doing leg lifts, which will activate the insides of your legs while your core works, but you might also squeeze the ring under your head like a pillow while performing an exercise that keeps your head unsupported for a while.
With this discovery, I realized the Pilates ring is for both isolation of muscles and engagement of multiple muscle groups, depending on your workout needs. Additionally, the magic circle assists with an important physical sensation called proprioception, which is your body's awareness of its own movement and what space it occupies. Using the ring, by squeezing or even just holding in place, provides additional feedback to your body about how your muscles are being used and where your limbs are in space. Heightened proprioception is essential to stability, especially when you get older, so training your body's sense of motion and location is a huge benefit.
I quickly understood why this tool is called a magic circle! Workouts can be dynamic or isolation based, with resistance or with support, with added challenge, or even just stretching - the magic circle has a place in all of these! Plus, my Infinito ring has proven to be incredibly durable and comfortable to use over the past couple months. It's small and lightweight so I can take it to work or toss it in a suitcase if I start traveling again, or I can tuck it out of the way at home and pull it out when I need it without taking up much space. For a total package home gym piece of equipment, I think I will be hard-pressed to find something better than the Pilates ring!
Do you practice Pilates? Though the magic circle has already helped, what would you tell a newbie to make Pilates classes seem more accessible? Can you think of any other small piece of fitness equipment that is as versatile as the Pilates ring?