Updated: Apr 18
The Pilates mini ball is, perhaps, as well know and seen as the magic circle.
It's is a popular piece of mat based Pilates equipment and often used in many other different styles of exercises not just pilates.
Once again, though, I think this can lead to a little bit of overwhelm...sometimes there is just too much choice and information.
Let me break down for you how I use the mini ball, which balls I own and what I suggest to buy for your home workouts.
I love the pilates mini ball. There I said it. It's my absolute favourite. This little squishy ball of happiness is probably the most familiar piece of equipment in all my classes as it is my go to anytime I want to use equipment or have a change. I use it a lot even when doing a more traditional class especially as a way to assist and adapt exercises.
It is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that can be used in roughly three different ways and it's partly this versatility that makes it my favourite.
The first is as a focal point. Place the ball between the hands, but don't squeeze, when doing a roll down, spine twist, side bend or roll back.
Next it can be used to assist and is especially useful for people with lower back issues. I often recommend participants to buy their own to bring to class and use as and when they need it even if we aren't doing a mini ball themed class. Place it behind the lower back when performing a half roll back, under the upper back when performing an ab curl or the hundred or only slightly inflated under the forhead for a back extension.
Lastly it can be used to make the exercise harder, this is usually done by making balance more difficult. Place it underneath the tail bone for toe taps, under the feet for a shoulder bridge or one foot for a monkey squat. It can also be place between the thighs or ankles and inwards pressure is then applied when performing the exercises.
This particular piece of equipment can also be customised depending on your needs and the exercises you are doing by simply inflating or deflating. The other bonus is it can be fully deflated and folded for quick and easy transport and storage. It's these last two points that cement the mini ball as my number one piece of equipment.
The Pilates mini ball needs a little more care when purchasing. I own a green branded version called a Bender ball however be aware they come in many different sizes so make sure to look at the description before you buy. The Bender ball inflates to around 8" and there are many at a similar size from 7" to 9" and any of these would be perfect.
Take care you don't order a much larger Swiss or fit ball. Likewise there are balls a lot smaller, similar in size to a prickly ball without the prickles, and ones that are weighted, the smaller ones sometimes called chi balls as well as ones similar in size to the bender ball - these are all entirely different pieces of equipment and will be used in a completely different way.
This wonderful piece of equipment is not always as easy to find, though as always, Amazon has many, many different options and I have sometimes seen them on the aisles of various supermarkets such as ASDA, Tesco and Aldi. If in doubt The Physical Company is again a good starting point.
Don't be scared of the mini ball it won't pop!
Remember it is a ball especially when fully inflated and it sometimes take a little practice to keep it under control.
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