Resistance bands are known by a variety of different names such as fitness bands and TheraBand, but essentially they are all the same thing. They can provide more support in exercises but also make them harder - it's all about how the band is used.
Resistance bands are made from elastic and normally come in different levels of resistance: light, medium and heavy. There are also different designs - some bands are a continuous loop and others have handles. Your Pilates instructor, if you are attending a class in person, is likely to have resistance bands available however, if you decide to purchase your own (whether you want to do your own workouts at home or perhaps if you are travelling), you may have a preference as to whether you use a continuous loop or one with handles (my personal preference is handles!).
There are two main reasons for using resistance bands, and we will cover both in this post.
Resistance bands can be really useful pieces of equipment for beginners, or those suffering with an injury, as they add support and can make an exercise more achievable. A beginner will, more likely than not, use a light band to assist with various exercises such as roll backs and leg circles.
A resistance band can be great to help if you can't reach a particular area of the body without increasing tension. For example, if you struggle to place your hands behind your thigh when completing a lying hamstring stretch, hooking a resistance band around the back of your thigh and holding the band in your hands will still give you the stretch, without having to force the upper body to lift.
The other main benefit of using a resistance band in Pilates is to challenge the body and make an exercise more difficult, without having to add more weight.
By increasing the resistance of the band i.e. choosing a medium band instead of light, you can start to add resistance to the exercise, which will make your muscles work a little bit harder! An example of this would be during a squat. By adding the resistance band, you can increase glute activation (and let's face it, anyone who has been to my class knows that the glutes are notoriously lazy and need some help to fire up!) and maybe add some pulses to build the burn.
The bands are something that you can use in class or for your own workouts. They are cheap to buy and easy to carry, so you could take them on the go when you're travelling!
Whether you're a beginner or looking for a challenge, a resistance band can be a great addition to your workout equipment.