15 Jan What’s in a Circle?
What does the term ‘magic circle’ conjure up in your mind? Would it be magicians, witches and wizards? Alternatively, perhaps some kind of magical energy that transforms your body as you touch this sacred circle? Well, you are not alone. When I was first introduced to the not so ‘Magic’ Circle, it was exactly what came to my mind. I was in fact thinking, it is the last adjective I would use to describe the horrid thing! So what exactly is a magic circle in Pilates?
Of course, we know Pilates is not just about being a form of fitness exercise. There is a huge element of mind body connection, thus offering a more holistic exercise system. So, you would ask, would this be the magical connection between the mind, body and spirit as you would work with the circle? Do you have to move in a circle, stand in a circular spot or even form some kind of circle in your workout?
You would be glad to know it’s nothing of the sort. This metal or rubber ring, of about 30 cms in diameter has small pads on either side. It is used in the classical Pilates repertoire to create gentle to moderate resistance and to challenge particular muscle groups.
Joseph Pilates first made the magic circle from the rings off the beer kegs, since it was robust and flexible, whilst sturdy enough not to break under applied force or pressure. According to Lolita San Miguel, my teacher, these copper rings would often cause a significant amount of discomfort for the users and many a time that people would bruise, or scratch / cut their skin through their use. Typical Joe!
This Magic Circle is a highly versatile piece of Pilates apparatus and can assist the Pilates practitioner to tap into their deepest core muscles more effectively. Any person, of any age and any shape, can use it.
Joe was a genius – he used it to target any body part e.g. upper/lower arms, chest, shoulders, thighs, calves, feet, to provide resistance, and as a result your muscles gain strength and endurance.
So what are the main benefits?
We cannot possibly mention all the benefits of the Magic Circle in one post, but just to give you a taster of what this incredible piece of metal is made of we want to list the following pluses:
- It strengthens your core muscles, without the risk of jeopardising your back like many of the other muscle strengthening programs, such as weight lifting.
- It offers a low maximum resistance threshold and is used in many types of rehabilitation, across the world. Our local physiotherapists who practice at our host centres regularly use it when they create an exercise programme for their patients.
- It helps balance and alignment. The act of putting pressure on the ring from both sides would create a challenge for your balance. The pressure must be applied equally from both sides in order to be able to keep your posture and balance intact.
- The circle will help you find your core strength and guide you when you are out of alignment.
- It provides dynamic stability for your hips and shoulders, which in turn, would help alleviate shoulder and hip pain. It also teaches the client to release pressure from the neck when they are performing any arm movement, helping them find the arm to back connection.
Considering this really simple, small and versatile piece of Pilates apparatus is under-utilised in the fitness industry. It can be used anywhere by anybody and it’s amazing how much it can help tone and strengthen your muscles.
Is it good for back pain?
The magic circle, is primarily used to tone the core muscles, which then would alleviate back pain. Many Pilates practitioners still use it to tone shoulders, chest, arms and back, as well as glutes, calves and inner thighs. It gives you a FULL BODY WORKOUT!
Correct posture is key when using the circle as inappropriate postural alignment may cause the body to compensate and the client would complain of back strain or pain. This is why it is so important that as an instructor, you have proper training to understand how the body should be in space as the client is working.
If used correctly however, this amazing piece of apparatus will create one strong, long and lean body.
To sum it up – magic circle exercises would target the whole body, improving your posture, increase your core strength and creates balance and alignment. A strong core, within a good posture means that there would be no more back, neck and shoulder pain.
So can it do magic?
Unlike with magic, there is nothing obscure about cause and effect. The effect a magic circle has on the body has been scientifically proven and it has been repeatedly proven it connect the core like no other. So there you have it.. you are creating your own little bit of magic whenever you use the circle without the need of spells, potions or other mystical means. Magic circles, their benefits and effects are totally REAL and if you haven’t already been lucky enough to practice on one, NOW is the time!
To find out more how you can find your own ‘CORE’ and / or help others find theirs, check out our full day Magic Circle Workshop held on 28th February 2020.
In love and light
Anita Horry Academy
Hey I’m Anita Horry – a 2nd Generation Teacher, Lolita San Miguel Pilates Master with over 15 years of experience. I was first introduced to Pilates as a result of back pain and Pilates saved me! First graduated with Power Pilates / Universal Pilates in Spain and continued my education with Pilates Elder, Lolita San Miguel, USA where I completed a two year Pilates Master Mentor Programme. Laterally, I successfully completed a further year long LEAP Programme with the late Master Teacher Bob Liekens who introduced me to essential functional advancements to the movement. These experiences and knowledge have signified the importance of the Classical Pilates method, combined with functional advancements to the movement in order to maximize your clients’ experience. That’s what Anita Horry Academy (AHA) stands for!
I am committed to bringing alignment into my own life, body and those people I come across on a daily basis with the intention to make their presence on this earth a better one. I have personally benefitted from Pilates in every way. As a teacher trainer, my intention is to create a programme which respects the Classical lineage combined with the functional adaptations required to teach the body in front of you. This is not a one-method-fits-all. This is NOT how Joe Pilates taught. A teacher should have all the necessary tools to be able to use for each instance/client who crosses his/her path. This is what makes an exceptional teacher!