Here you thought you were going to a serious Pilates workout, and your instructor hands you a child-sized, squishy ball that seems appropriate only for a game of catch. Don’t be fooled. A Pilates mini ball, which measures 7 to 9 inches in diameter and inflates with air, can step up your class by making you acutely aware of the muscles you are activating and work on your balance too.
Pilates mini balls are shrunken versions of the larger stability balls that you place between your thighs or underneath your back, foot, leg or neck to better engage certain muscles or to provide support so you can do exercises with better posture and form.
You want the ball to be moderately squishy — much like a slightly deflated football. It can help you with basic Pilates exercises. So if you struggle with the roll-up, for example, which calls for you to start in a reclined position on the floor with straight legs or bent knees and peel your torso up and down out of the mat, use the mini ball to build initial strength. Sit on the mat and position the ball behind you. Extend your arms in front of you, inhale and roll down over the mini ball slowly. Return to the upright position — keeping your body in a C-curve as you roll up. You can also place the mini ball between your knees for bridging, in which you lie on your back with bent knees, feet in the floor, and lift the hips up and down with control. Squeezing the ball between your thighs also keeps your legs in alignment during the double straight-leg stretch, rolling like a ball and the corkscrew.
Mini balls are available to purchase in the studio and are priced at £5.00