The 9 Best Pilates Rings to Up Your Fitness Game (Plus, How to Use One, According to a Trainer)

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Pilates is the low-impact, high-yield exercise that’s increasingly popular both at home and in studio settings (along with yoga, Pilates revenue is expected to grow by 11 percent from 2018 to 2025—impressive, especially considering pandemic hardships). Pilates focuses on core strength, awareness of breath and alignment of the spine, and it’s an excellent low-weight toning regimen. Whether you’re in a studio, working out with your Aero Pilates reformer in your home gym or simply doing mat exercises (like the lineup at Alo Moves) in your living room, you’ll want to know all about the Pilates magic circle. The tool is variously called an exercise ring, fitness ring or workout ring, and its as useful for Pilates ring exercises (natch) as it is for other, full-body workouts.

Meet the Expert

Laura Quinn is the head Pilates trainer at Alo Wellness Club in Los Angeles.

What Is a Pilates Ring Used For?

“They are so multi-purpose!” says Quinn. “I use them for more resistance for the entire body, not just one area. We get creative!" Pilates professionals like Quinn advise thinking of the Pilates ring as a resistance band that is not only lightweight but also has structure, so it’s easy for beginners to use correctly. "We know the Pilates ring can change an exercise and activate additional muscle groups to make the body work harder," she says. Exercisers can hold it between the ankles, knees, thighs or hands, pushing and pulling on the ring to target and tone specific areas including, but not at all limited to, your glutes, quads and core. When selecting the right Pilates ring to use, Quinn says she looks for “products that are easy to get, affordable and high-quality, so when we bend them, squeeze them and use them, they won’t break!”

What Are Specific Exercises Using the Pilates Ring?

"If you take a basic bridge (on the mat or reformer) and place the ring between your inner thighs, just above above the knees, you will feel right away how it forces you activate your inner thighs into the glute bridge," Quinn says. "Automatically this will make a basic bridge harder by engaging more muscle groups. The core will also work harder to hold the ring in place. 

"You can also hold that glute bridge, take the ring from between the thighs and hold it between your palms. Squeeze the ring to turn on your triceps. Continue moving through the glute bridge,  squeezing the ring in your hands—you’ve just amped up something basic to make it more advanced and hard," she says.

A couple other specific exercises that can be leveled-up by using a ring include resistance pliés (squats while squeezing the Pilates ring between your knees) and the famed and feared 100 (100 arms taps while prone, with your shoulders up and the Pilates ring pressed between your ankles, held up at a 45 degree angle).

The Best Pilates Rings at a Glance

Super Lightweight Choice

1.   Pilates Fitness Ring by Wakeman Fitness

Wakeman Fitness

  • Why We Love It: only 1.1 pounds, 15-inch diameter
  • Material: dual-padded EVA foam

This basic black fitness ring gets our vote for packing a lot of utility and solid construction—it’s made of EVA foam, plastic and polypropylene—in a lightweight package that makes it easy to pop in your gym bag and take to Pilates. There’s a 30-day limited manufacturer’s guarantee, just in case, but we think this device is tops for working your entire body, including your inner and outer thighs, upper arms, abdominals and chest.

Top Beginner Package

2. ProBody Pilates Ring Circle


  • Why We Love It: comes in 6 colors, 5,600+ 5-star ratings
  • Material: foam

We love this set, which includes a 14-inch diameter ring, a carry pouch and a little booklet detailing exercises (there’s an online link to use instructions, too). “This is used at the Pilates studio I attend, so I purchased one for home use,” says one five-star reviewer. “Excellent for stretching out legs, ab work, etc.”

Sized for Shorter Builds

4. Yogalo Pilates Ring and Ball Set


  • Why We Love It: 3 colors, 12" size
  • Material: fiberglass with a rubber sleeve

“Nobody likes the Magic Circle, but this one changed my mind. It's only 12" diameter (standard size is 14"),” says one five-star reviewer. “My clients like it a lot more, they say it's easier to focus on the exercise when you don't have to struggle with keeping the circle in the proper place because it's too big for folks with short legs/arms.” In general, smaller rings, which measure less than 14 inches, are better suited for shorter, more petite clients, those wanting to work specifically on lower body muscle groups or those with limited hip mobility.

Comfy and Cushioned

4. Yogalo Pilates Ring and Ball Set


  • Why We Love It: DVD demonstrates 23-minute routine, non-porous padded hand grips
  • Materials: steel, foam, rubber

When you’re not working your butt, thighs and core with this padded ring, you can stretch and do reps using the three differently-weighted bands and the 9.8-inch Pilates ball. “Value priced for the variety of items,” says one purchaser.  “The ring is sturdy, flexible and the handles are soft foam. I purchased this brand because I didn’t like the hard curved handles on other brands…I love that it comes with stretchy bands and a small ball for therapy exercises. The enclosed chart of a 12-minute routine with the Magic Ring is adorably illustrated and fun to follow—even if it takes longer than 12 minutes.”

Superior Instructional Appeal

5. AeroPilates Magic Circle Pilates Ring with Workout DVD


  • Why We Love It: DVD demonstrates 23-minute routine, non-porous padded hand grips
  • Materials: steel, foam, rubber

This ring gets high marks for its soft, rubber-covered feel and for targeted toning and strengthening, especially in the inner and outer thighs, arms and chest. “I ordered this circle because my old one was worn out,” says one reviewer. “I researched a bit and this was one of the cheaper top recommended ones. My old one was not wrapped with rubber like this one is, which is awesome when doing moves that the bars would normally dig into my legs.”

Premium Weighted Model

6. Bala The Power Ring


  • Why We Love It: kettlebell/dumbbell hybrid design, five pastel colors
  • Material: steel wrapped in soft silicone

“The ring is awesome and so versatile,” says reviewer Melissa L., who gives the device five stars. “It’s soft and easy to hold. There are so many uses for it. Highly recommend this if you’re looking to add some modern flair to your workout routine.” This ten-pound exercise circle is as much a weight as it is anything from a Pilates class, but it can be held between your arms and legs to maintain correct placement in much the same way as a traditional Magic Circle—with the added oomph of weight.

  • Why We Love It: ultra-firm resistance, 4.5 pounds
  • Material: steel

This sturdy steel baby evokes the first Magic Circle ever, which according to Pilates lore was invented in post-World War I New York City, when German émigré Joseph Pilates ran an unconventional gymnasium where he’d wear tiny black or white shorts and, while smoking a cigar and drinking a beer, demonstrate the exercise method he called “Contrology.” One move, called “the barrels,” had clients stretch over an upholstered form that the instructor made from an empty bisected beer barrel. “After inventing The Barrel,” according to a history recounted by Rhinebeck Pilates, “he was left with the metal rings from around the beer barrels, and not wanting to leave anything to waste, he invented The Magic Circle. The Magic Circle is a small piece of equipment that we use very often in Pilates classes today. It’s a small metal circle with two soft pads on it (though when Joe invented his original Circles, those pads were just blocks of wood) used to teach people how to engage their innermost muscles to get the most out of the work out.” This model’s flat metal lines aren’t padded or coated like so many Pilates rings today, nor is it lightweight. However, we think it’s a great option for sturdy people who appreciate sturdy workouts, and equipment that will last forever.

Top Multi-Item Set

8. YXILEE 6Pcs Pilates Ring Set


  • Why We Love It: carrying bag holds seven pieces, 14-inch Pilates ring
  • Material: PVC, polyester, silicone and odor-free latex

We appreciate the grippy socks that come with this Pilates exercise set, since keeping your footing secure is part of a good foundation during the squats, lifts and pulses you’ll be doing with these pieces. Elements include a 9.8-inch Pilates ball, a 72-inch yoga strap, a 16.5-inch 8-shaped resistance band, a fabric resistance band, those little non-slip socks and a nylon backpack to store it all in.

Top Budget Choice

9. RitFit Pilates Ring


  • Why We Love It: more than 1,600 five-star ratings, 15-inch size
  • Material: EVA-wrapped fiberglass

Lightweight, bendy and well-priced, this exercise ring is a great option for traveling. “I actually use this product and have bought 5 for friends. Easy to use. And I’ve gotten results!” writes reviewer Jimette Bonasera. Sweat-resistant foam, non-slip padded handles and a strong-yet-lightweight build round out the appeal of this little guy.

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dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...