Sometimes, being ‘over a barrel’ is a good thing! Highly effective Pilates Instructors are always looking for different ways to help clients achieve their fitness goals and especially when working in a small space, barrels are effective and compact pieces of equipment. Three barrels that can add a new spin to Pilates exercise are the Arc Barrel, Spine Corrector and Ladder Barrel.
The smallest of the barrels, the Arc Barrel, is the perfect accompaniment to any Mat session. Modifications of standard Matwork exercises allow instructors to perfect starting positions to reduce tension, allow more range, access targeted muscle groups and even increase the challenge to each exercise. As a support in supine positions, the head and shoulders, feet, hands or pelvis can be on the barrel, and in prone, the barrel is ideal to neutralize over-active lumbar extensors. The padded foam surface and durable vinyl upholstery will make the Arc Barrel virtually indispensable.
Only slightly larger than the Arc Barrel, the Spine Corrector features a small angled step and a steeper curve as well as wooden handles. The step provides often-needed height to reduce tension in a seated position while the increased curve requires a greater degree of joint mobility, particularly in the spine. The additional height allows for greater ranges of motion and delivers extra intensity where more strength and stability are required from the exerciser.
When programming requires the use of exercises performed in a standing or vertical position, the Ladder Barrel fits the bill nicely. Adjustable to the needs of each individual, the smooth wooden rungs of the ladder provide sturdy support for either the hands or the feet. Although many exercises in the Ladder Barrel repertoire are variations of moves found elsewhere, the benefits of the height and curvature of the barrel are obvious. Complete spinal support is available when moving into full extension or lateral flexion on the padded surface. The smaller base of support and elevation serve to increase body-weight resistance and place more emphasis on upper and lower body stability.
What’s your barrel of choice? Leave us a comment letting us know how you like to incorporate it into your repertoire and we’ll all collect some new ways to use these pieces of equipment!