Pilates and Props

One of the coolest things about Pilates (on a very long list) is the ability for it to stay interesting for many years.  Now, this does take an instructor who’s willing to constantly reinvent their classes and a willingness from a client to continue to evolve their practice.  But something else that keeps the interest there is introducing props.  There are multiple props in Pilates from Fitness Circles/Magic circle, bands, loops, weights, balls, BOSU’s and on and on it goes.

Many people lose interest in their workouts over the long term because they no longer feel challenged or are simply just bored.  An important component of any workout is definitely keeping the client interested and mentally challenged. When we are excited to go into a workout, when we can’t predict what we will be doing that day, we are far more likely to be successful with our fitness goals.  There is no reason why a thoughtful workout in any genre that combines safety, specific goals and keeps things fun can’t stay with you year after year.  I pride myself on the fact that some of my clients have been with me for over 15 years but it takes effort to constantly think about new ways to use props, whether it be on the mat, on the machines or even online.  COVID brought about a whole new dimension of the industry with the introduction of online classes being the only option for instruction led fitness.  I have used cushions, cans of soup, belts and even brooms during a workout to make sure clients stayed enjoying their workouts while at home.  Mental health has never been more important than now and being in a consistent workout routine that you actually enjoy can make the world of difference.

Now while it definitely makes it more interesting to add props in, it also challenges your body and your mind.  For example, you could do your 100’s the traditional way but if you add a loop around your ankles you are now having to add in outer thigh work to hold the tension on the loop.  Or maybe you are lying on a foam roller and now your balance is being challenged to keep you steady on the roller.  If you have weak inner thighs as an example and you don’t have access to a Reformer, by adding in a prop like the circle you can transform your mat workout into a killer inner thigh workout and improve those imbalances.  Need to progress your balance and proprioceptive awareness?  Grab a BOSU, ball or a foam roller and see what adding an unstable surface into your workout can do!

Another great reason to use props is that they don’t always make your workouts harder but sometimes they also help you to achieve exercises that are normally challenging for you.  Find it really difficult to do the full Roll Up?  Loop a long band around your feet and hold the ends of it.  As you begin the Roll Up, bend your elbows into a bicep curl and utilize the tension to help you articulate the vertebra off the floor.  Same on the roll down- by creating tension you can train the body to roll slowly down and work on getting through those “sticky spots.”

If you’re curious to see more about how props can make things more interesting, head on over to our YouTube channel and check out our Pilates with Props video that incorporates 3 different props with 3 different exercises and how you can change them up just by adding in some equipment.  Have fun!

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