There are hundreds of small fitness tools at our disposal as fitness professionals; however, there are two that are quite versatile, inexpensive, easy to store and last for a long period of time if taken care of properly—the pilates ring/circle and the 8-inch mini ball. Both are utilized for dozens of different exercises and may also be used interchangeably in some cases. This week, three exercises featuring the pilates ring/circle and mini ball will be highlighted. Consider adding these fitness tools to your fitness tool box and reap the fitness rewards. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Pilates Ring/Mini Ball Exercises – remember to begin with the head/neck in neutral, rotate the shoulders back/down, lift the rib cage, imbed the navel on the spine, pull the pelvic floor upward and breathe throughout each exercise rhythmically. You may perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise, two/three times per week on non-consecutive days.
-Supine Hip Extension – this exercise trains the gluteus maximus/hamstrings/hip adductors and nose to toes core. Lying supine on the floor with the soles of the feet on the floor, knees flexed and pointing toward the ceiling, place the ring/circle or ball securely between the knees. Palms are face down by the hips on the floor. Engaging the gluteus maximus (buttocks), drive the hips toward the ceiling as you compress the circle/ring/ball between the knees. Then, lower back down without touching the floor (almost-but not quite) and return to the beginning state with the ring/circle/ball. Slow, controlled repetitions each direction.
-Standing Lunge with torso rotation – this is a compound exercise, training the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes/nose to toes core. Stand with the legs staggered in a long front/back stride, R leg forward/L leg trailing and L heel remains elevated throughout the exercise, shoulders/hips/knees/toes all facing the same direction and the legs right/left are positioned as though you are standing on two different railroad tracks. Holding the ring/circle/ball in both hands with the arms extended out in front of the chest, lower the body down, flexing the knees 90 degrees, keeping the body weight in the front heel the entire exercise and rotate from the waistline to the R side as you lower down and then return to the beginning stance as you drive through the heels extending both legs at the knee joint without locking the knees or dropping the heel. Repeat on the opposite side rotating to the L. *The fitness tools just serve as a focal point.
-Squats with Chest Press – this is a compound exercise as well, training the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes/pectorals/deltoids and nose to toes core. Stand with the legs approximately shoulder distance apart holding the ring/circle/ball between the palms, facing one another, at chest height. Engaging the quadriceps, hinging from the hip joints, sit the tailbone toward the wall behind you lowering the body to approximately 90 degrees of knee flexion, keeping the knees tracking over the heels to shoe laces, weight kept predominately in the heels to mid-foot. As you lower the body into the squat, engaging the pectorals (chest), compress the ring/circle/ball across the chest strongly and then return to the beginning position without releasing the contraction. Controlled chest press movement pattern, smoothly performed with the squat.