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Before You Buy a Pilates Magic Circle

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Updated May 10, 2010

Pilates Magic Circles are becoming very popular throughout the fitness world. They are versatile and portable, and offer a great workout for very little money.

With the popularity of magic circles (aka fitness circles, exercise rings) has come a wealth of choices of styles, and quality. While buying an exercise ring is not a huge expenditure, the prices range from $20.00 to $75.00, you do want to get one that will work for your needs.

What is a Magic Circle?

The Pilates magic circle is a ring, usually made of flexible metal or rubber, about thirteen inches in diameter, with small pads on either side.

How is the Magic Circle Used?

The magic circle is provides gentle to moderate resistance in an exercise. They also give the body feedback as to where it is in space and which muscles are being used. The magic circle is not intended to provide a big resistance challenge. One does not pick up a magic circle and try to crush it inwards as far as you can, which, of course, it what most people initially try to do.

Sample Pilates Magic Circle Exercises:

How Much Resistance Do You Need?

Flexible metal is the most common material for magic circles. There are some that are all rubber, but so far every one I have tried has been too mushy. Two of my rings are now eggs! If you are a stronger person, who wants more muscular challenge, then you will not want a rubber ring or even one of the new "lite" versions of the metal. If your purpose is mild resistance and more body placement oriented, then a lighter ring could be perfect.

Portability vs Durability

The magic circles are perfect for travel. They don't weigh much, they lay flat, and add little volume. Even a heavy duty ring rarely weighs much, but I would probably choose lite or rubber version my main purpose was to use it for exercise while traveling. If you are looking for an exercise ring that will stand up to a lot of use, for example studio use, then you will want a regular metal ring. Again if you are planning to use your circle for a lot of resistance, get the regular metal.

Get Pads on the Inside and Outside

It used to be that there were pads only on the outside of the circle. The new trend it to put a pads on the inside of the ring as well. I prefer having pads on both the in and outside of the circle as they add to the versatility of the magic circles. An exercise like rainbow, for example, where one stabilizes the ring with pressure on the inside, is much easier with pads.

How to Buy a Magic Circle

There are so many brands of these gizmos available now that it is really a "buyer be ware" situation. I have seen some really bad (read flimsy and squishy)ones. My best suggestions are to question your Pilates instructor, try those that your studio has, buy one at a store where you can check it out yourself, or buy online from a reputable seller.

Compare Prices

and check these sources:

Some Magic Circle History

Joseph Pilates has the distinction of being the inventor of the magic circle. While we often hear fitness circle, exercise ring, fitness ring, magic circle is still the preferred name in Pilates. It is said that Joseph Pilates made the first magic circle from the ring on a keg. Now that should bring a little smile to your workout!

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