Every exercise system uses different props: in yoga, you will often hear about a yoga mat, a yoga block, a yoga circle; in Pilates, you will probably hear about apparatus including the Reformer, mats, rings, bolsters, and chairs. With so many different accessories, we can understand how hearing all that terminology might be confusing. And, while no beginner is expected to be able to name them all and no intermediate user is expected to know how to use them, these are probably the most common used accessories in Pilates studios:
Pilates Ladder Barrel
Used to strengthen the back muscles through back extension exercises, the ladder barrel has many uses. It allows for relatively safe experimentation with a range of flexion and extension exercises for the back.
The Pilates chair, also known as the Wunda Chair or low chair, is a traditional piece of Pilates equipment. It is excellent for strengthening the core muscles, arms and legs. Exercises are done lying, sitting and standing on the chair, as well as from positions to the side of the chair. You should expect a lot of stability and flexibility work on the chair.
This device is meant to increase the resistance of some movements. This ring can increase the potential for exercises to develop muscle rather than just focus on flexibility. It’s widely used in rehabilitation programs because its flexibility makes it ideal for those working on resistance training.
Exercise balls are only used for a few exercises and most of the time it’s used to provide an extra balance challenge to an exercise. For mat Pilates, medicine or exercise balls are also used to add resistance and light weight to an exercise. The most common use in mat Pilates is to work arms and legs.
The Pilates bolster is used to support the spine while more complicated movements are performed. These devices very closely resemble bolsters used during weight training to prevent injury. However, in Pilates, they are used to make movements more comfortable and relaxing.