Jul 062010
 

Pilates training requires stressing and stretching your core muscles in almost every movement to improve your fitness, strength, and flexibility. Pilates classes usually contain a wide variety of techniques on the mat, reformer, arcs, and barrels. One thing quickly recognized by many Pilates instructors was the lack of enough equipment for larger classes, and the inability of many of their students to afford expensive equipment at home. They quickly started adapting many of the routines to be done as Pilates ball exercises.

Technically a Pilates ball is just a simple Swiss exercise ball. Often Pilates trainers recommend their students get two different sizes of exercise balls. The larger traditional exercise ball for using in core strength building and stretching, and a smaller exercise ball which can be held in the hands, or squeezed between the knees.

While an exercise ball is not nearly as capable as the other Pilates exercise equipment, there is a large range of exercises which can be done with the ball. This allows most students to have a great Pilates training session without all the expensive equipment, to practice at home, and for fitness centers to allow larger classes than can be managed with standard Pilates equipment.

Pilates ball exercises add a great advantage over the traditional equipment, too. Since the ball refuses to stay in place by itself, you must focus completely on your stability muscles, and maintaining balance. This can aid in developing your core muscles even more quickly. This is a secondary reason many Pilates instructors have started adopting the use of the exercise ball. They can see the added advantage their students are receiving from the forever trying to move exercise ball.

What types of Pilates exercises can you do with the exercise ball? You can do both a forwards and reverse spine stretch. While lying on your stomach over the ball you can flex your spine upwards, but lifting your head and shoulders, arching your back. Hold the position to strengthen the back support muscles. To get a deep stretch into your spine you can do the reverse stretch by lying on the ball with your back, and arching over the surface of the exercise ball.

The Pilates Plank is one of the most common exercises. You can use the exercise ball by either putting your hands or feet on the ball during the plank. You will discover the difference in power required due to leverage changes, and the added work you get by adjusting for the rocking exercise ball.

Pilates ball exercises take the standard Pilates maneuvers and make them more challenging by adding new positions, new angles, and requiring added balance. Using an exercise ball is a great way to enhance your workout over working on the mat only, while keeping your costs low. You can get most of the benefits of the reformer, arcs, and barrels without the added costs of the more expensive equipment. An exercise ball is much easier to store out of the way, and inexpensive to replace if it becomes damaged. Give your Pilates program a boost and add a Pilates ball.

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