The Magic Circle is a staple at any Pilates studio and one of the most challenging pieces of small equipment a person can own. The original circles were metal and very heavy, but I recommend the lighter plastic circles, because they are more comfortable to use and better for beginners. They are particularly helpful for increasing the challenge in the Pilates ab series.
A word of warning, if you have tight hip flexors (which feels like tight inner thighs), don’t use the circle between your ankles. Instead, put your legs through the circle, pressing the outside of your ankles on the inside handles. This will activate your glutes instead of your hip flexors.
When the circle is in your hands, be sure that the heels of your hands are pressing gently into the center and that the squeeze is coming from your back, as opposed to your neck or shoulders. Use the resistance to focus more attention on your ab muscles.
16 Ways to Add the Magic Circle to Your At-Home Workout:
Move #1: The Hundred
Everyone’s favorite exercise! Just kidding. My clients hate it but they still have to do it so I try to spice it up with props. The circle works!
Move #2: Single Leg Stretch
Do 10 to 20 on each leg!
Move #3: Double Leg Circle
Keep your head forward and shoulders on the mat.
Move #4: Scissors
Move #5: Lower Lift
Take your time and inhale to lower your legs. Then begin your exhale and lift your legs by pulling your abs in and up.
Move #6: Criss Cross
Move #7: Cross Cross Challenge
Roll back an inch each time and stay there for the twist. Do 10 to 20.
Move #8: Rolling Like a Ball
This one is harder than it looks. Keep heels close to sits bones and head forward. Do 5 to 8 reps.
Move #9: Spine Stretch Forward + Saw
Use your exhale to hollow out your belly. Do 5 to 8 of each.
Move #10: Side Leg Series with Arm
Plug your shoulders into your back and press down on the circle but try not to move it while you kick.
Move #11: Side Leg Series
Place handles between ankles and assume a side teaser position. Squeeze your abdominals with every squeeze of the Magic Circle. Do 8 to 10 reps of each movement.
Move #12: Teaser
Be sure to sure to roll though your spine, breath and control your movement. Do 3 to 5 of each position!
Move #13: Stomach Massage
Go slow and try not to touch the Magic Circle with your legs. Do 5 to 10 reps.
Move #14: Kneeling Mermaid
This one is so good! When else do you stretch your sides and work your love handles like this? Never!
Move #15: Kneeling Chest Expansion
Expect very little movement. This challenges the whole body. Make sure to squeeze the back of the body and abs to open the chest. Do 10 to 20 reps and 10 pulses.
Move #16: Thut Work
Actually… hamstring, butt and thut (that’s where your thigh and butt meet)! This can be tricky. If you have a hard time keeping the circle in place, where a shoe and flex your foot. Do 20 to 30 reps on each side.
Stay tuned for next week when Jen will teach us how to incorporate another the last piece from her list of recommended home gym equipment, which you can find here.
You can follow Jennifer Nyp on Instagram at @zengirlfitness for more daily exercise ideas or if you live in Manhattan and want to work out with her private SOHO studio, you find her contact info here.