Having a strong midsection is important for much more than just looks! A lot of clients walk through my Pilates studio doors hoping to strengthen their abs, and I always explain to them that a truly healthy core also requires a strong back, obliques, and pelvic floor. A stable core helps us maintain good posture and balance, and complete everyday activities without straining our backs or getting injured.
The four-move workout below strengthens your whole core using a magic circle.
Need one? Try Balanced Body Ultra-Fit Circle Pilates Ring, $42.35 available from our Amazon store.
Aim to do these exercises two to three times per week, and you should feel an improvement in core strength in as little as 10 workouts!
1. Kneel and bring your magic circle in front of you, turning it so that one of the padded grips is at the top and the other is on the ground. Place one hand on the top grip and one on the bottom grip.
2. Curl your toes under and flex so you can push through your feet, then scoop your core up and in and raise both knees about an inch or two off the floor. As you hover, gently push into your circle without crushing into it—this way your core is doing the work.
3. Lower down to starting position; repeat 8-12 times, alternating hand position. You can keep your spine rounded for an easier version or straight for a harder one.
1. Place the magic circle between your ankles and lift it into a plank position on your forearms.
2. Pushing through your toes and shoulders, guide your body forward, and then back using your ankles and arms. Avoid lifting your backside up or down as you move, and make sure you hold your core in and squeeze your inner thighs on the circle.
3. Repeat 8-10 times.
Rolling Like a Ball
1. Come to a seated position and place the circle against your legs with your hands on both grips. Hug your knees into your shoulders and lift your feet off the ground, finding balance by engaging your core.
2. Roll backward across the length of your spine to the tips of your shoulders, then use your core to control yourself back up to a seated position with feet lifted. Try not to rely on momentum to do this.
3. Repeat 8-10 times.
Teaser with Reaches
1. From a seated position, lift your legs and come up into a half boat pose; try to sit up as tall as you can on your sit bones. Extend your arms and hold onto your circle just above your knees.
2. Pull your core in to stabilize, then reach both legs up through the circle without falling backward. Pull back through to your starting position.
3. Try for 6 repetitions with great form—these are hard!