As smaller Pilates equipment for home and studio goes, the magic circle, exercise ball, and resistance bands rule. But there is other equipment available that can help you learn or teach exercises in new ways. Here, I feature five pieces of equipment that I think are useful and add variety to workouts. Some are fairly new to the Pilates scene. Some have been around a while but have recently become more user-friendly due to upgrades in the information available on how to use them. Most are quite affordable.
The Stretch-eze is a different kind of resistance band. It is a wide nylon/lycra cloth sewn into a long oval shape. It can be used for resistance exercises and to facilitate different types of stretching, including PNF stretching. In Pilates, Stretch-eze is also very useful for aiding alignment training and offering extra support in challenging exercises, such as roll-up and roll over.
The product has recently been enhanced by a new level 1 Pilates workout DVD and a very good instructor's manual.
A simple but useful concept, the Stretch Out Strap is an elaboration of the regular yoga strap. It is a nylon strap with loops woven into it at intervals for the hands or feet. It can be used to enhance and stabilize stretches. It is also very useful for giving visual and tactile feedback on how the body is organizing itself in an exercise. For example, if the Stretch Out Strap is held between the hands in an exercise like Pilates saw, it gives a lot of information back about how the arms are moving through space and relating back to the core.
Available in lengths; and with DVD, exercise manual, and training posters.
Tye-4 resistance training is quite unique. There are bungee cords coming out from a chest harness that have loops at the end for hands and feet. Originally developed for standing Pilates exercises, the bungees offer resistance during all kinds of movement. This product has been available for a while, but there is now more material available from The Method Pilates on how to use the Tye-4. I explain this product extensively in my review.
4. The Orbit
It's not a skateboard! But it is fun, and challenging. The Orbit surface is padded and there are castors on the bottom that let it roll in any direction. Your job, of course, is to control that. There are all kinds of inventive ways to create core strength and stability challenges out of a small rolling platform.
Orbit is a fairly new offering from Balanced Body. They are growing a following for it with workshops and training programs.
At $359.00, the CoreFitnessRoller is a bigger investment than other equipment on this list, however, it offers a lot of workout options. Endorsed by Rael Isacowitz, this piece of equipment seems like something that might come about if a foam roller and a Pilates reformer got married. There are straps that give resistance attached to a very firm roller shape base. The resistance levels can be adjusted and the equipment can be used for balance and strength exercises done standing, kneeling, sitting and lying down.