A mini-ball Pilates workout focuses attention on the core muscle group even better than Pilates exercises done with a full-size stability ball. A Pilates session done with a 9-inch ball increases muscle activity by as much as 50 percent. Exercises done with a mini-ball may also be easier for beginners and safer for all. Many Pilates exercises performed on a larger Swiss ball can be readily adapted for a more effective workout using a mini-ball.
The only piece of equipment needed for a mini-ball Pilates workout is a 9-inch ball. Many balls made specifically for Pilates are available. A Bender Ball is another name for a Pilates mini-ball. Any 9-inch ball that can hold a person's weight and has a non-slip surface is also suitable.
Older people, those new to exercise and those who are significantly overweight will find a mini-ball Pilates workout is an easy way to start an exercise program. Sit in a chair with the mini-ball between thighs. Slowly squeeze legs together to a count of 10.
Buttocks and Thighs
Target the buttocks and quadriceps with a wall squat which--like all mini-ball exercises--also works the core. Stand with back to the wall. Place the mini-ball behind you in the small of the back. Step back to press the ball firmly into the wall. Move feet out in front of the body. Squat slowly, keeping the ball squeezed between your back and the wall. Do not squat further than a seated position or allow knees to jut out over the toes. Repeat 10 times.
Optimize crunches with a mini-ball. Sit on the floor with knees bent. Position the ball in the small of the back and lean back as far as comfortable. The further you lean back, the more benefit you'll get. Place the hands behind the head but do not use them to lift your head. Inhale. Exhale and roll up while tightening the abs. Do not allow your back to lose contact with the mini-ball. Slowly return to the reclining position. Repeat 10 times.
Check with your physician before beginning any exercise program. A mini-ball Pilates workout specifically targets core muscles through balance. Persons taking medications that affect their balance should take extra care during a mini-ball workout.