The following terms are those used by Pilates teachers and practitioners. They will get you started in better understanding the movements and exercises used in Pilates.
Abdominal muscles are those that cover the area on the front of the stomach. Pilates strengthens the abdominals and the rest of the powerhouse muscles, which support posture and body movement.
Also known as: abs, abdominal muscles, core, powerhouse muscles
Barrels are Pilates apparatus that help with breathing, developing muscles in the legs and arms, and correct the curvature of the spine.
Also known as: Pilates equipment, Pilates barrels, spine corrector
Bodywork is a phrase used to describe Pilates, massage, physical therapy and other manipulation of the body.
Also known as: Pilates bodywork
The Cadillac is a piece of Pilates apparatus or equipment. The Cadillac is made of a raised table top surrounded by a four-post frame that have springs, levers, bars and straps to help enable workouts.
Also known as: the Trapeze Table, the Rack, Pilates equipment, Pilates apparatus
Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates Method, originally called his form of exercise Contrology. Today it is known as Pilates.
Also known as: Pilates
Extension is moving limbs (such as arms and legs) to extend them away from the joint.
Also known as: leg extension, arm extension, muscle extension
Pilates instructors who learned the Pilates Method from Joseph Pilates himself are known as first-generation teachers. Notable names include Romana Kryzanoska, Ron Fletcher, Lolita San Miguel, Mary Bowen and Kathy Grant.
Also known as: Pilates master teachers
foot on the walk
Foot on the walk is a Pilates position where the practitioner balances all of their weight on the ball of their foot and toes, and lifts their heel completely off of the floor.
One of the more effective visualization techniques to help practitioners properly align their body while performing Pilates is known as the headlights method. In this exercise, practitioners visualize imaginary headlights are shining out from their pelvic bones. This method helps one properly achieve a neutral pelvis position for better Pilates form.
Also known as: hip headlights, visualization,
The hip belt visualizing technique helps Pilates practitioners engage their transverse abdominal muscles through imagining a belt is slung low across the hips from one pelvic bone to another, and visualizing tightening the belt.
Also known as: hip belt visualization, transverse abdominal visualization
Hundreds, also known as breathing hundreds or 100s, are a classic Pilates mat exercise. Usually used for warmups, hundreds work the abdominals, legs, arms and lungs.
Also known as: breathing hundreds, breathing 100s, the hundred, 100s
Imprinting is the practice of isolating each individual vertebra through breathing or movement
Also known as: imprinted spine, spine imprinting
The muscles that run between each rib are known as intercostal muscles. These muscles help control your rib expansion and contraction when you draw in or expel breath.
Also known as: rib cage abs, rib cage muscles
The Magic Circle is a piece of Pilates equipment. It is an isometric device that appears as a flexible ring with handles. The Magic Circle can be used to work out the muscles in the inner thighs, neck and upper arms. If one doesn’t have a Magic Circle, a medium-sized rubber ball is a good substitute.
Also known as: arm toning ring, thigh toning ring, Magic Ring
Another visualization technique in Pilates is known as the marionette string. This technique helps practitioners lengthen their spine by imagining a string running from the crown of the head to the ceiling, helping improve alignment from head to tailbone.
Also known as: Pilates string technique
The mat is the most important and basic Pilates apparatus. Most powerhouse and abdominal exercises are done on the mat.
Also known as: Pilates mat workouts
navel to spine exercises
Navel to spine exercises are a visualization cue used to help Pilates practitioners stabilize their torsos and center on their abdominal muscles. During navel to spine cues, one imagines drawing the abdominal muscles up and in, as if drawing your belly button into your spine.
Also known as: drawing in ab muscles, drawing navel to spine
The classic Pilates stance is one where the heels are pressed together, the toes point out at a 45 degree angle, and the thighs are rotated outward from the hip sockets.
The powerhouse muscles are the abdominal muscles, lower abs, lower back, pelvic floor and glutes. The powerhouse is where the body’s stability comes from. Pilates helps strengthen these powerhouse muscles.
Also known as: girdle of strength, core muscles
The Reformer is a specialized piece of Pilates equipment that is made of a gliding platform stabilized by springs, straps and pulleys. The Reformer is used by kneeling, sitting, standing, or lying on one’s front, back or side. The straps and springs are adjustable, and allow for more than 100 different exercises on the one single piece of equipment. The Reformer uses resistance and one’s own body weight to lengthen and strengthen muscles to create a lean, strong look.
Also known as: Pilates Reformer, Pilates equipment, universal reformer
The Wunda Chair was invented by Joseph Pilates to enable Pilates practitioners to mimic the movements of Chinese acrobats. The Wunda Chair can be used as a box or as a chair to enable exercises that strengthen muscles and improve balance in the arms, upper body and torso.
Also known as: Pilates chair
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