Toning the Inner & Outer Thigh with Magic Circle


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As we already know, the Magic Circle is an easy, inexpensive, and effective tool that will help you achieve your Pilates body. Try to find just twenty to thirty minutes a day to use your Circle to tone and lengthen. If you’re consistent you will start to feel and see the results within the month!

Here is Part One of some awesome inner and outer thigh shapers. This is one of the hardest places to sculpt for women. The Magic Circle helps you target these hard-to-get places in the legs.

If you’re not a Pilates regular yet, these exercises will feel difficult because they are bypassing the strong muscles you are used to powering through with and accessing the weaker ones that need to be strengthened. Always remember to do a warm up with a brisk walk and some abdominal work, and then do some cool down stretches while doing this targeted work.


This exercise will be much more comfortable with a Circle that has pads on the outside and inside. The Pressing Out exercise works and tones the outer thighs.

• Place the legs through the inside of the circle.
• Carefully lie down on your side, lining the head, shoulders, and hips to the back edge of the mat.
• Bring the legs out to an angle so the toes point to the front corner of the mat.
• The bottom leg presses into the bottom inside pad of the Magic Circle to anchor it to the floor.
• You can extend the bottom arm and place the head on the arm or a pillow. Or you can come up on the bottom elbow and forearm and act as if you are trying to push the floor away from you.
• Keeping this action in the forearm will ensure that the bottom shoulder stays away from the ear and the bottom ribcage stays lifted as you work the legs.
• Bring the top arm in front with the hand pressing into the floor in front. This will encourage the top shoulder to draw away from the ear.
• Bring the top leg up and press it into the inside handle at the top of the Magic Circle.
• Inhale and press the top leg into the inside handle.
• Exhale and release.
• As you move through the legs, keep the torso still. No shifting should occur.
• You can move slowly through the presses, holding 3 or 4 seconds at the top and then releasing. Or move at a quicker pace if the form is optimal.
• For the Pressing In exercise, the setup of the body is the same.
• The Magic Circle is now between the legs with the inner ankles pressing into the outside handles of the circle.
• Keep the bottom leg steady.
• Inhale, squeeze down on the circle for 3 or 4 seconds, and exhale and release. You can do quicker squeezes if the form is optimal.
• Pressing In helps to tone and sculpt the inner thighs.

Exercise: Lifting and Lowering with the Magic Circle

• The body starts in the same position as the previous exercise.
• Start with the Pressing Out position. The legs are in the middle of the Circle and pressing out on the Circle.
• The bottom arm is long on the floor and the head is on the arm or on a pillow.
• The top arm is in front and pressing into the floor.
• Inhale and lift both legs up keeping hold of the Magic Circle.
• Exhale and slowly lower the legs back down still holding onto the Circle.
• As the legs go up and down try to keep the upper body as still as possible.
• After 3 or 4 rep you can switch the Circle to the Pressing In position. The legs are now on the outside of the Circle and squeezing in.
• Keep hold of the Circle, lift both legs up, and inhale.
• Exhale and slowly lower your legs.
• For both versions you can hold at the top for 3 or 4 seconds before you release. If you have optimal control you can speed the pace up a bit.


• The body is in the same setup as the previous exercises.
• The head, shoulders, and hips are lined up with the back edge of the mat.
• The legs are stacked and angled to the front so that the toes point to the corner of the front of the mat.
• The bottom arm is long on the mat with the head resting on the arm or a pillow.
• The top arm is in front with the hand pressing into the floor.
• Place the bottom leg through the Circle and press the ankle into the inside bottom pad to hold the Circle down.
• Bring the top leg to the outside of the Circle and right above it.
• This top leg will be tracing the outside of the Circle as it goes up and over.
• Inhale and touch the toes to the front.
• Exhale and bring the leg back, trying to touch the floor.
• You can angle the toes down or up.
• This will change what muscles you’re working and sculpting, so try to change it up.
• This can be done at a fairly slow to quick pace.
• Make sure the torso and pelvis remain still as you move through the legs.

~ by Jennifer Gianni

Tell us your thoughts on these exercises below!

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  1. Pam2

    Hi Jen,
    Pam here from Vero Beach, Fl. I have often used the Magic Circle in teaching my classes. We just finished our January Challenge – Leg, Butts, Thighs … a 15-20 min intense pattern of exercises and this final week, we enhanced it with the Magic Circle. Interestingly, most of the ladies love using it…and some hate it !!! Keep the balance…mind ~ body ~ spirit …

  2. Casey

    Some of our clients call it the “Magic Circle of Death”… these same clients also seem to be the ones that email a few days after class loving how sore they are after the workout! Too funny!

    ~Casey Marie

  3. Tracy_669

    My clients refer to the circle as the Ring of Fire! I never thought to trace the circle. Can’t wait to try that one!

  4. JenniferGianni

    There is so much to do with the Magic Circle. It is amazing how versatile and how you can get a full body workout with that simple piece of equipment. It is great to travel with. Let us know some other fun things you are doing with The Magic Circle of Death or The Ring of Fire! Pam, your classes sound fun and intense! Wish I could join.

  5. Pam2

    Hi Jen and Casey – thanks for your comments ! Since I teach at a ladies only Fitness Club (and the only Pilates instructor !), I am going to give some of the other instructors a “lesson” on using the Ring – feeling that it’s an excellent tool to enhance any workout. One of the instructors teaches a “Senior Fitness Class” and many of the ladies (more senior than I !) use a chair . Any ideas using the Ring, especially with the legs…I’ve got the arm work handled ! Thanks for your help ! Keep the Balance…

  6. Casey

    Hi Pam! There is so much you can do with leg work and the magic circle! First you can do inner thigh work seated in a chair with the magic circle between the legs, above the knee. You can also experiment with stretches holding onto the circle with the hands with the foot at the other end inside of the ring. You can also try placing one end of the magic circle on the floor with the other end under a foot (upright). From there you can do straight leg seated leg presses to activate the hamstrings. If you feed the legs through the inside of the ring and place it above the knee you can activate the outer thigh and hip with ease. Then to train reaction time place the ring flat on the floor and you can choreograph all types of top tap sequencing in and around the circle. I hope that helps, and have a blast with your class!

    Much Love,
    Casey Marie Herdt