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Best Additions To Your Pilates Mat Exercises - Props I Use and Endorse

December 28, 2014 by Bob Hannum

Although no equipment or props are necessary, I find them invaluable for a couple of reasons. First they bring a little freshness and variety into my workout which as we all know can at times get boring! The other reason is 'periodicity' which is a fancy term from fitness science that refers to the fact that our muscles get used to repeated movement over time and simply stop developing unless we mix it up a bit with different weight or movement or...props! So here are my favorites out of dozens I've tried.

The Magic Circle


This is the classic and oldest Pilates prop invented byMagic Circle Joseph Pilates himself nearly 100 years ago! The story goes that he wanted to find some way to create more challenge for himeself and his advanced students so he took metal staves from wine barrels and the rest is history! I use it between my thighs, ankles, arms and hands. Very versatile and inexpensive from under $15 to about $20.

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Tye4


Without a doubt the BEST Pilates prop EVER invented and that includes the Magic Circle! That's saying a lot and I mean every word! This is truly a remarkable device and a must-have for any serious practicioner of the mat exercises. What this does is create resistance in every direction during each exercise. Without the Tye4 resistance is basically in one direction with gravity. Created only a couple years ago by my friend Joan Breibart from the Physical Mind Institute in New York, one of the premiere PilatesBest Pilates Prop - the Tye4 certification training programs. Click here to see the Tye4 in action! Well made and durable. Completely adjustable to fit any body. Awkward to use at first but this passes within one session. I love this product and to prove just how much, I get no commission for selling it - my opinion is purely driven by its merit! About $70 and worth every penny.

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Adjustable Wrist and Ankle Weights


I use these more than any other prop. A great way to add a little weight and challenge and so simple to use. The adjustable kind are a must since the slightest addition of weight is really all you need in Pilates exercises. Iadjustable ankle weights generally take out all the bars in each wrap except one - it feels light at first but by the time I'm done with a workout it's done the job! Velcro fasceners are much more convenient than straps, though the velcro can become annoying when it grabs onto your clothing. Starting at about $17.


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I include these bands because they are so popular, but I must say I'm not a fan of them. I get the same resistance from either the Tye4 or adjustable wrist and ankle weights with the added advantage of leaving my hands free. But here they are because soresistance bands many prefer them. Very inexpensive and they come in a variety of colors and resistances.


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Exercise Ball


The exercise ball is also a classic addition to the Pilates routine. Great for stretching before your workout, but I use it for added challenge since nearly every Pilates mat exercise can be done in some kind of variation using this ball. They come in a variety of colors and sizes - I find that the larger the ball the better the stretch. Starting at about $10, most come with pumps.Pilates ball


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There are many more but these are the ones I use. To see others and these in action go to my photo gallery of Pilates props.