The Best Pilates Rings of 2023

best pilates rings

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Looking to level up your home Pilates practice without the financial commitment of purchasing a reformer? A Pilates ring, or magic circle, might be just what you’re looking for. While the low-cost accessory is known for making Pilates more intense, you can also use one strategically to make the workout a little easier. 

After heavily researching and testing five of these (purportedly) magic Pilates rings, speaking with two expert Pilates instructors, taking 10 classes on YouTube, and attending one private lesson, the Balanced Body emerged as the best product overall for its comfort and overall user-friendliness. The URBN fit ring won the mini-ring category for its attractiveness, comfort, and price point. 

The Best Pilates Rings

Best Standard Pilates Ring

Balanced Body Ultra-Fit Circle Regular

  • 15-inch standard size
  • Moderate tension
  • Made of flexible plastic with a rubberized shell

Check Price on Amazon $35 at Balanced Body
balanced body pilates ring
  • Aesthetically appealing 
  • Comfortable
  • Comes with a link to high-quality, free instructional video
  • None that we encountered 

The Balanced Body Ultra-Fit 15-inch circle has moderate tension, versatility, and a simple aesthetic. While some rings felt too tense and some felt too lax, the Balanced Body is the “Goldilocks” of all the products tested. 

Both Pilates experts we consulted use Balanced Body rings in their studios. Veske noted that in the three-plus years since she opened her doors, she hasn’t needed to replace them. Meanwhile, they’re the only type of magic circle I’ve seen at my gym, which offers two Pilates mat classes per week. 

In testing, the foam handles were the right balance of firm and cushioned. They feel like they’d stand up to repeated frequent use, but are still very comfortable to use. Any discomfort I felt during my sessions with the Balanced Body rings was a result of muscle fatigue, not the product itself. 

While everyone comes to Pilates with unique fitness levels and needs, the Balanced Body’s moderate tension is most likely to satisfy most people’s requirements. (The product was true to its description, which calls this ring “approximately equivalent to a three-spring circle,” which is Pilates-speak for medium tension.) And while the standard (larger) sized rings are typically recommended for taller people, at five feet tall, I had no problem with it— and I think this was in large part due to its moderate tension level. 

The Balanced Body rings are black with black handles and padding. And while there’s no color scheme that matches everyone’s taste, it’s hard to go wrong with black on black. 

I also appreciate that Balanced Body come with a link to several mat Pilates workouts you can do at home. I tried some out, and the video quality is good, the instructions are clear, and there are several free workouts to choose from. (Many more are available for a fee.) All in all, it’s a top-quality magic circle that’s built to last.

Best Mini Magic Circle

URBN fit Pilates Ring

  • 12-inch mini-ring style
  • High tension
  • Made of fiberglass with a rubber shell

Check Price on Amazon $41 at Walmart
urbn fit pilates ring
  • Budget friendly
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • High tension level could be too intense for some users
  • Relatively thin foam padding

The award for best mini magic circle went to the URBN fit. While it’s comparable to similarly-sized rings in many ways, it offers decent bang for your buck.

The URBN fit’s tension level is the highest of all the products we tested—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The less tension in your ring, the more you have to distort its shape (by pressing inward or outward on it) to get the strengthening benefits. More tension means you can build strength within a more limited range of motion. This is a major plus for people with a limited range of motion in their joints. That said, it would be less than ideal for those with full range of motion but limited strength, as muscle weakness would prevent them from working their muscles through the full range of motion.

While the URBN fit was only about half as cushioned as the Balanced Body, it was the best mini-ring I tried. It features thin neoprene padding, which offers some give and kept my ankles and knees from screaming at me when I placed it between my legs. (Meanwhile, my glutes and inner thighs were screaming at me no matter what).

Aesthetically, there’s no contest. With black handles and choices of pink, mint green, or black ring, there’s an URBN fit ring to fit every color preference. 

Budget Pick


  • 14-inch standard size
  • Moderate tension
  • Made of “100% foam”

Check Price on Amazon $20 at ProBody
probody pilates ring
  • Comfortable
  • Available in six fun colors 
  • Moderate tension level likely to meet a variety of users’ needs
  • Less handle padding than Balanced Body 

The ProBody is an excellent all-around standard-size magic ring. At about half the price of the Balanced Body, and with many of the same features, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

I especially loved that the Pro Body comes in six colors and includes a carrying bag and a high-quality instructions sheet with photos and step-by-step instructions for nine different exercises. 

Similar to the Balanced Body, the Pro Body ring comes in a standard size and offers moderate tension, which is likely to meet the needs of many users. At 14 inches (as opposed to the Balanced Body’s 15-inch size), it might even be a bit more versatile. I also liked that it comes with a mini poster showing nine exercises you can do with the ring. With clear photos and simple instructions, it was easy to follow. I also appreciated not needing my phone or my laptop to get started. (I’m in front of a screen enough as it is.)

The ProBody lost a few points for comfort, however. The handles’ neoprene padding wasn’t nearly as thick as the Balanced Body, which meant I didn’t want to use it as often.

Are Pilates Rings Worth It?

best pilates rings | woman using yellow pilates ring outside
Wendy McMillan for The Nessie

If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive, simple way to spice up your Pilates practice, then you’ll appreciate having a magic ring in your repertoire. 

Made of either metal or rubber and covered in plastic or rubber, a magic circle is a flexible circle that typically ranges from 12 to 15 inches in diameter, featuring padded handles on opposite sides. The 14- and 15-inch sizes are considered standard, and smaller rings, which come in 12- and 13-inch diameters, are considered mini-rings. Of the five rings we tested, the smaller ones had more tension than the larger ones, but the size doesn’t always necessarily determine the tension level. 

And a Pilates routine is something that can benefit nearly anyone. According to Kerttu Veske, the owner and founder of Care•To Pilates in Boulder, Colorado, Pilates targets your smaller, stabilizing muscles, such as the transverse abdomimus and lumbar multifidus icon-trusted-source Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach (SPH) “Core Stability Training for Injury Prevention” View Source , which many other workouts don’t. That’s how it prevents injuries and helps you rehab from existing ones, she says.

But it’s not just for injury recovery. Research shows Pilates can improve core strength and stability, treat forward head posture icon-trusted-source Journal of Physical Therapy Science “Clinical effectiveness of a Pilates treatment for forward head posture” View Source , reduce back pain, and even improve cognition icon-trusted-source MDPI Open Access Journals “Effectiveness of A Pilates Training Program on Cognitive and Functional Abilities in Postmenopausal Women” View Source . One study found that people who did Pilates during pregnancy were more likely to have uncomplicated deliveries and healthier babies. 

How To Use A Pilates Ring

best pilates rings | woman using balanced body pilates ring on mat
Wendy McMillan for The Nessie

Whether you’re doing a workout on the mat or the reformer, there’s no shortage of ways to incorporate a magic ring into your practice. You can grasp it between your hands or wrists, or between your ankles, knees, or thighs and press in (if you’re holding the outsides) or press out (if your extremities are inside the ring). Using a ring (and Pilates in general) allows you to engage your small stabilizer muscles, improve your spinal alignment, and develop your flexibility. Another benefit of the ring is that it allows you to adjust the intensity of your workout and keep things interesting. 

And if you know that Pilates is a good way to activate smaller muscles, but don’t really know what that feels like, a ring can help you locate them—and learn how to put them to use. “Many people don’t understand how to feel these smaller muscles,” says Tamara Fayad, RYT, a yoga instructor on the Ness Provider network. “Pilates ring] enhance proprioception [your body’s ability to sense movement and action].”

Many of Veske’s clients affectionately call the magic circle “the ring of fire”—in that it can really make one feel the burn—but she says that’s a bit of a misnomer. According to Veske, while the rings can certainly be used to make a move harder, they can also offer support. For example, if you placed a ring between your chest and the floor while doing a push-up, the ring would support some of your body weight as you straightened your arms to bring your upper body up off the floor.  

On the other hand, adding a magic circle can add some heat to a simple move like a glute bridge, according to Maria Pertile, a Master Instructor at Club Pilates in Boulder, Colorado. I can attest. During a private lesson, she had me do just that—first with my knees inside the circle and pressing out to engage my abductors (outer thighs and hips), then with my knees outside of the circle and pressing inward to engage my adductors (inner thighs). But the burn is only as intense as you make it, says Pertile. “You can squeeze until the ring is fully oval or until it’s barely changing shape. That’s up to the client,” she explains. 

How We Found the Best Pilates Rings

best pilates rings | urbnfit,balanced body, gaiam pilates rings stacked on exercise mat
Wendy McMillan for The Nessie

Meet Your Guinea Pig

Before becoming a freelance health and fitness journalist working with outlets like The Washington Post, Runner’s World, Outside, and SELF, I earned my Masters’s degree in occupational therapy. For more than a decade I worked in a variety of healthcare settings (mostly hospitals), helping people with chronic and acute medical conditions (think strokes, joint replacements, and head injuries) function as fully as possible. This meant designing treatments that helped my patients grow stronger, more coordinated, and more self-aware, educating patients and their families on how to make their homes as safe as possible. 

In addition to my healthcare experience, I’m also an ACE-certified personal trainer, certified intuitive eating counselor, podcaster, and self-proclaimed fitness geek. Although my first love is endurance sports—I’ve completed six marathons and two Ironmans—I’ve also dabbled in CrossFit and am currently obsessed with lifting heavy weights in the gym. (Leg day is my favorite.) As a group fitness instructor for nearly 20 years, I’ve primarily taught indoor cycling and the occasional barre class. 

Our Testing Process

Before I hit the mat or the reformer, I sat down at my computer to research rings. I spent two hours diving down the Pilates ring rabbit hole to nail down the specifics, including why you’d use one, which ones are most popular, what they’re made of, what people love about them, how much they cost, and more. 

I also interviewed two expert Pilates instructors, attended a private Pilates session that incorporated each of the products, and tested them on my own with guidance both from videos I found on YouTube as well as using the free resources (including videos and instructional documents) that came with some of the rings The Nessie ordered for me.

The Pilates Ring Buying Guide

best pilates rings
Wendy McMillan for The Nessie

Who Should Buy Pilates Rings?

Pilates rings are for anyone who practices Pilates at home. Pilates practitioners include people who want to improve their core strength, resolve neck and/or back pain, and optimize their general strength, flexibility, and balance. Athletes, older adults, and prenatal and postpartum people are among the many populations who engage in Pilates, either as their main form of exercise, as cross-training for another sport, or as part of a varied fitness routine. 

Veske, the Pilates studio owner, says her clients include runners, hikers, cyclists, and swimmers. Following ACL surgery, Pertile, the Club Pilates instructor, returned to skiing less than a year later and credits Pilates with her successful rehabilitation. 

Depending on how they’re used, Pilates rings can increase or decrease the intensity of a specific exercise, engage different muscle groups, and add variety to your workout. 

Which Features Matter Most in When You’re Buying a Pilates Ring?

  • Comfort: Is the ring generally comfortable to use? Specifically, how cushioned are the padded parts? How does it feel when you’re exerting a lot of tension on the ring? 
  • Tension: How hard is it to press the ring into an oval shape? More tension isn’t necessarily better. Less tension may be more appropriate for people with less strength or Pilates experience. However, some may prefer more or less tension depending on what muscles they’re targeting or depending on whether they’re working their lower body or their upper body. 
  • Resources: Did the product come with instructions of any kind? If so, how clear, versatile, and user-friendly were they? 
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