11 Pilates Props and Equipment Pieces Every Beginner Should Know

Posted on Jan 22, 2019

Pilates Plus 11 Props and Equipment Pieces Every Beginner Should Know

Pilates is an exercise for the mind and body which evolved from the Principles developed by Joseph Pilates. It involves mat exercises, but you can also find a full repertoire of exercises built around different Pilates equipment pieces.

Joseph Pilates arrived at the conclusion that he needs the assistance of machines when he found that for patients to exercise more efficiently, he had to hold their body to help them perform it. He started to experiment with machines that could replace his body, which then led to the creation of the Pilates apparatus we see today.

These tools aid in providing a more efficient exercise program that can dramatically transform the way you look and feel. To be able to appreciate the process, let’s look into the different Pilates equipment that you could encounter in the future.

Pilates Plus 11 Props and Equipment Pieces Every Beginner Should Know Illustration

Small Portable Equipment Pieces

Magic Circle

This is also referred to as an exercise ring, fitness circle, or a fitness ring, but people within the Pilates circle still prefer to call it “magic circle.” It was invented by Joseph Pilates originally from the barrel ring of a keg, now it comes with various options for resistance levels.

The magic ring was intended to help practitioners find their center while creating resistance to muscle groups in the upper and lower body. It is considered a secondary prop to assist powerhouse devices to be more efficient in accomplishing results by adding intensity to floor exercises.

This tool allows you to do repetitive movements, while the pressure exerted help slim down and tone up the body in a deep and targeted fashion.

Hand Weights

Pilates hand weights add another level of challenge to your matwork repertoire. To be clear, Pilates weights refer to light hand weights. It is around 1-3 lbs. for women and a little heavier for men.

Incorporating small handheld weights can create better awareness to the periphery. It is an ideal prop for rehabilitation because it can help build strength and improve mobility in the hands and wrists after an injury.

Resistance Bands

Pilates resistance bands come in different lengths and tensions. As what its name suggests, these bands provide resistance to elevate the difficulty level of your exercise. It also helps engage and strengthen certain muscle groups. You can even use multiple bands together to increase the challenge in building strength.

The tension of these bands can be easily adjusted to suit your different needs and capacities. Furthermore, this make mat exercise more challenging but enjoyable.

Resistance bands are perfect for those who are on the go since it is a lightweight and portable alternative to equipment exercises. This allows you to get your fitness fix at home or even while on vacation.

Pilates Ball

A Pilates ball is your typical exercise ball used for the purpose of performing certain Pilates exercises. It can add resistance that forces you to activate pelvic floor muscles making it an effective tool in promoting core stabilization.  


Larger Pieces of Pilates Equipment

The Low (Wunda) Chair

This small-sized apparatus may come with a funny name, but it offers big results. This small chair belies its ability to encourage strength and balance exercises, usually during beginner classes. It is designed by Joseph Pilates in such a way that it can be used in every home or hotel room in America.

It comes in several versions, but it generally comes with a seat, pedal and springs attached to adjust the resistance. Pilates used this to rehabilitate his clients suffering from a knee injury and to train advanced clients in performing full-bodied, acrobatic exercises. It is more agreeable for men to use as it puts emphasis on upper body strength, allowing more athletic challenges.

The wunda chair is very effective for creating sport-specific programs for the basketball player, soccer player, runners, or bikers. It develops impressive leg power that is also integrated with proper biomechanics and core strength.

The Cadillac (Trapeze Table)

This equipment offers an extensive range of exercises with the necessary bells and whistles needed for post-rehab clients and athletes. It comes with leg springs, arm springs, a push-through bar, loops and a trapeze bar.

The Cadillac may seem intimidating at first, but the initial design by Joseph Pilates was a simple one that involved a hospital bed with mattress sprigs attached to the wall. It has been said that this was originally designed to enable bedridden patients to exercise. However, the design has evolved over the years allowing a variety of users to enjoy it.

By breaking down motion into small pieces, the user restores correct movement patterns. The leg springs, for instance, can help runners to fully exert their hamstrings. Basically, it can effectively isolate every muscle group and develop it with continued use. It adds more than 200 exercises to your regimen while challenging the body into different planes of motion.

Universal Reformer

This equipment is so aptly named since it “universally reforms” the body. This was considered the centerpiece of Joseph Pilates’ inventions and the very first equipment he developed. It first started with a bed and machinery springs that he attached to bedposts so that sick prisoners of war in the internment camp can exercise.

The design you see today now comes with a gear system. The height of the footbar can be adjusted through the four notches inside the frame to allow optimum movement for every user. What makes this machine unique is that it provides proprioceptive feedback provided by the constant resistance created by the springs.

With proper guidance the reformer develops core strength, good alignment and flexibility. It reforms the body by providing it with a clear trajectory on which to move it. These principles increased the efficiency of movements and close the kinetic chain for better proprioceptive feedback. So, in putting the body in a better position to move and then supporting and resisting it, the body is brought in a better form and condition.

High/Electric Chair

Don’t let the name or its medieval appearance scare you. A high/electric chair is considered a crucial apparatus of a strong Pilates foundation. The design is crafted to provide a therapeutic effect because it provides tactile feedback from the high back support.

What is unique to this equipment is that it has the heaviest springs among all other apparatus to allow the client to immediately feel the work and load of the exercise. It also provides specific support for the exact alignment for the ligaments. It can also help strengthen and balancing the hips, gluteal muscles and legs.

The Wall or Pole System

This is an adaptation of the trapeze table but designed for small spaces, low ceilings or group classes. It can be used for most of the Trapeze Table exercises however it only has upper parallel bars or canopy frames.

Ladder Barrel

This is just one of the barrel equipment that Joseph Pilates created. It is designed for the purpose of decompressing the spine, promote its flexibility and develop the muscles that surround it to be uniformly long, strong and stable.

It is a ladder with four horizontal rungs and a wooden brace for a bottom that attaches to one side of the barrel. The ladder rungs and brace provide hand and foot holds. This equipment offers challenging abdominal exercises and flexible movements that stretch and strengthen the whole body. The main exercises for this equipment include sit-ups, leg stretching and spinal extension.

The Hump Barrel

This is also known as the Spine Corrector because it corrects imbalances and weaknesses of the spine. The exercises developed for this equipment involves lying with your back arched over the barrel. It stretches the tight muscles of the chest, shoulders, the sides of the body, and the front of the hips.

With repeated use, it gradually develops a uniformly strong and supple spine by massaging, supporting, and challenging your spine as well as the powerhouse muscles.

Waste no time to achieve and enjoy these benefits. Enroll in our classes today to experience the improvement that these pieces of equipment are designed to provide.