What Is Magic Circle ?

magic circle prop

What is the magic circle ?

magic circles Pilates group

The magic circle is a Pilates tool created by founder Joseph Pilates that’s intended to help practitioners find their center. It’s also referred to as a fitness circle, exercise ring, and a fitness ring, but “magic circle” is still the preferred name within Pilates. It is said that Joseph Pilates made the first magic circle from the ring of a keg.

Magic circle is a “add-on” meaning it’s not mandatory to perform exercises with, it diversifies the benefits. Because the props are small, lights and not expansive, a lot of studios are equipped with it, and also individuals.

More than anything, magic circles has many benefits.

What is a Magic circle ?

The Pilates magic circle is a ring, usually made of flexible metal or rubber, about 13 inches in diameter, with small pads on either side. It provides gentle to moderate resistance in an exercise. It also gives the body feedback about which muscles are being used. Flexible metal is the most common material for magic circles. There are some that are all rubber, but the rubber models tend to be to soft. ” If you have more strength person and wants more muscular challenge, then you will not want a rubber ring or the versions of the metal. If your purpose is mild resistance and more body placement oriented, then a lighter ring could be perfect. Sometimes lighter moves are more efficient than strong ones.

This little resistance prop is very popular due to its easy to be carried on, and used both in Mat classes & reformer classes.


Magic circles resistance is light, but they enhance an exercise benefit and feedbacks; It gives the body & mind a very good feeling of which muscles contracting and how to engage properly. The magic circle provides gentle to moderate resistance in an exercise.

Instead, this prop is integrated to be mindful into the body to support or challenge you during exercises. It provides gentle tension to activate muscles. It can be squeezed light to hard to increase the resistance during certain exercises to build strength, control and body-mind connection.

pilates mat shanghai jeydancepilayes

It helps develop more awareness and mind focus, magic circles with light tension, gives you a lot of feedbacks on the movement performed. I explain: this prop can be used to “guide” the body, target the right muscles and the right sensation in an exercice. It develops control & precision.

When placed between ankles or thighs, the resistance from the ring is great for strengthening inner thighs and activating the pelvic floor. We use it a lot for postnatal Rehab.

Squeezed between hands, this ring is an effective way of building arm, chest arm and shoulder strength, thoracic spine control and shoulder girdle.

Adding the magic circle to your mat workout can also help you find the right muscles and challenge your movement (precision, center, see above)

Used in combination with the mat leg circle series, for instance, squeezing the ring can help you find those hard to target side hip muscles & adductors

When placed between your hands behind your back for extension exercises, like dart, the ring shape supports your chest opening. Squeezing on the ring as you move into extension means that the tension creates a further challenge to the movement and strengthens your back muscles.


1- Into the hands

Place your open palms on the pads on the outside of the ring. With slightly bent arms, raise the ring directly above your chest and keep it there.

Press gently on the ring to create some tension and keep this tension as you perform the exercise. This will increase the challenge to your arms and involve (and work) the whole body in this exercise. It creates shoulder strength, chest arms, and pectorals development. Upper back strength.

magic circle hands

2- In your ankles

Place in your ankles the magic circle is adding inner tights muscles challenge and pelvic floor activation. With proper breathing it will also helps feel your deep core muscles such as transverse abdominis. The adductors are ribbonlike muscles attached along the femur thighbone that help to rotate, flex, and squeeze the thighs together. Potentially, they are among the strongest muscles in the human body, even though we forget to use them enough in modern life.

3– Inside the knees – lightly above knees

This will target right into your adductors, but also external rotators, back muscles and deepest abdominal muscle, it’s a good exercise to feel core & pelvic floor. The anterior muscle chain of the legs is also targeted.

4- Side lying leg press

side lying press leg

The side-lying leg press is a mat exercise done with the Pilates magic circle. It is a good exercise for thigh that focuses challenge on the inner thighs. It also tones the glutes (butt muscles) quite well. The whole Pilates powerhouse is engaged and creates length and stability.

This exercise especially works the adductor muscles which draw your legs together.

4- Palm Press crossed legs

This exercise is very good for pectorals, chest, pelvic floor and obliques, lower abdominals.

In the palm press, the position of the body combined with the pressing of the magic circle with flat palm activates and lifts the pelvic floor muscles while strengthening the waist, obliques and lower abdominals.

Pilates ring and exercise mat kept on wooden floor
Pilates ring and exercise mat kept on wooden floor in fitness center
There is so many exercises we can use Magic circles with, now you have some examples - if you want to learn more or practice 
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