Pilates Equipment Elevates Mat-Based Exercises
Build Balance & Muscle Definition With Pilates Equipment
Pilates is hot, quickly moving from the exclusive, personal training sessions of Hollywood starlets to gyms around the country. There’s even a new Wii game for it. This form of exercise started with Joseph Pilates, who used resistance as a form of rehabilitation for hospital bed-ridden patients during World War I in England. When he returned to Germany, dancers picked up on the workout. After Joseph left the country for the United States in 1926, he opened a Pilates studio with his wife in New York.
Today, more than 10 million Americans practice Pilates, either by using the Pilates reformer machine in a one-on-one or intimate-group session, or – more affordably – by doing mat work with travel-friendly props they can keep at home and take to class.
Portable Pilates equipment includes balance boards, toning rings, weighted and balance balls, foam rollers and resistance bands. You’ll first need a mat, of course. In a pinch, you could substitute a traditional yoga mat, but the practice of Pilates is best saved for a thicker, specially designed mat. (Your spine and back will thank you.) If you have a sensitive back, we also carry Thera Band mats that provide up to an inch of cushion.
Pilates is all about strengthening the core, and the balance board is a great tool for developing those muscles. It serves as an unstable surface, forcing your ankle and calf and abdominal muscles to work at keeping you steady. You can also use it to make traditional moves, such as plank position, more challenging.
Another essential piece of Pilates equipment is the toning ring. These rings, which somewhat resemble a hula hoop and come in 14 ½ to 21 inches, increase muscle definition and build endurance and coordination. They work on multiple areas of the body, such as the arms, legs, butt, abs and back. Each ring features two grips and is covered in a soft material for maximum comfort while you work out.
Exercise balls and resistance bands are crucial pieces of Pilates equipment, too. Small, weighted balls – at 1 to 7 pounds each – help you maintain alignment and double as dumbbells, while bigger balance balls can support your body’s weight as you perform different moves. The elastic bands we carry are very budget-friendly and available in up to eight resistance levels, so you can adapt each move to your ability level.
Finally, there’s the foam roller. This makes the surface you work on unstable, further challenging you in traditional exercises such as plank or push-up. After you’ve completed your routine, place the roller under your body to treat yourself to a massage.