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Magic Circle

The Magic Circle or Pilates ring is a prop that originates from Joseph Pilates himself. Unlike the theraband, soft balls and big fitballs which have been great additions to the method especially when working with so many different bodies and without perhaps the wonderful Studio Apparatus.

The Apparatus are wonderful creations of Joseph Pilates and really do help in rehabilitiation or simply to get more juice out of a fantastic workout.

It is rumoured that Pilates invented the magic circle whilst he was working as a drayman. However I came across another story by Elaine Ewing from Rhinebeck Pilates who also gives us insight to the origins of the circle and barrels.

"Clients would also work out on The Barrels, which were primarily used for spinal flexibility and extension. The story behind Joe’s process of inventing the barrels is that he took an empty beer barrel and cut it in half, then covered it with upholstery. This created a “hump”, for clients to arch their backs over or do a series of exercises on. Which exercises they could do depended on the height and placement of the barrel. After inventing The Barrel, he was left with the metal rings from around the beer barrels, and not wanting to leave anything to waste, he invented The Magic Circle. The Magic Circle is a small piece of equipment that we use very often in pilates classes today. It’s a small metal circle with two soft pads on it (though when Joe invented his original Circles, those pads were just blocks of wood) used to teach people how to engage their innermost muscles to get the most out of the work out.

Is the story behind the Barrel and the Magic Circle true? No one is totally sure. But it makes for a great story, which was yet another thing that Joe was a genius at creating."( taken from Elaine Ewing's Blog)

I must admit to loving this idea. Although I have also heard that the barrels also originate from the curves of the sofa arms.

This might be a question best answered by the Pilates Elders.

Despite the stories of origin there is no doubt as to the feedback this prop gives you. When pressing the ring it narrows. This is mirrored in our bodies because just as the ring narrows so too does our core through the contraction of the deep core muscles made up of the pelvic floor, multifidus, transverse abdominus and diaphragm.

Understanding the fundamentals in Pilates and knowing how to keep your pelvis stable and abdominals supporting your lower back so as it doesn't hyperextend, is important. It is for this reason I and other teachers normally introduce the Magic Circle to classes at a later stage in training.

I have found it so beneficial in firing my inner thighs and seat which for some reason despite all my efforts will quite happily swich off. You see I too am a work in progress! I happily admit it.

So if you happen to have a magic circle at home come and join one of our classes. Simply email me to be put on the list for the next course -


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