Know the ABC’s of Your Pilates Practice

 

Words, words, words, words, words. Teacher and students need to speak the same ones. In a Pilates setting you could be doing grasshopper when I’ve said elephant; pulling when I said pushing; placing down your malleolus when I said metatarsal. Not only wouldn’t it be pretty, it would be confusing, stressful, and unsafe. When I was learning to teach my teacher harped on me to know where my body was in space. I wanted her to reassure me that from her visual standpoint, I was doing an exercise correctly. She said she didn’t care how it looked, she cared about how it felt — to me. Because only when I knew what it felt like would I be able to convey its form to others. When Pilates teachers get together much of our sharing centers around what verbal cues you (successfully) used to get your students to do what you wanted. I came up with this glossary because I wanted you to have a physical place to check what you think you’re hearing in the studio during the unceasing movement of class with the actual words on paper.

A

ASIS

Abduct

Abs

Adduct

Adductors

Agility, a  movement quality

Agility Footwork, incorporates challenging choreography

Airplane, an exercise

Allegro

Aluminum bar

Anterior Superior Iliac Spine

Anterior Serratus

Anterior tilt, and often more important, just “tilt”

Alignment     

Appalachian Spring, a complex exercise on the reformer

Arabesque, a shape of the leg adopted from ballet

Arc, a large prop used either by itself of in combo with the other apps

Arc, as in Leg Arcs, Arm Arcs

Arches

Arm work, as in arm work on the reformer; on the Cadillac; on the chair

Axial, axis

B

Backstroke, an exercise

Balance

Balance Point

Ball

Back-body

Bar

Barbie-toe

Barre

BASI, a leader in the Pilates movement

Belly

Bellydancer. I used to call this exercise Stripper until last week when I was chastised

Bicep

Bicycle

Biomechanical

Bikini line. A landmark.

Bilateral

Bird dog, a universal exercise

Bodacious Butt Ball. A Core Cat term of affection for our 6-inch foam tool

BOSU

Bottom-body

Bottom lift

Boxing

Breaststroke

Bridge, Bridging

Breath; breath pattern

Butterfly, as in “butterfly your legs open to form a ….”

C

Letter C

Cactus arms

Capsule as in joint capsule

Carola Trier. A Pilates elder who gave us Carola’s Breathing

Cat-cow, aka cat-camel

Cadillac, an apparatus                     

Cervical spine

Chair, aka Combination OR Wunda Chair

Chariot, an exercise series. Turning Point

Chest

Chest Expansion, an exercise on multiple pieces of equipment

Clara, wife and assistant of Joseph Pilates

Cleopatra, a contemporary exercise

Clamshells

Clavicles = Collarbones

Climb a Tree, an exercise

Circumduct, circle

Closed chain

Cobra, synonymous with Swan. They are back extensions

Cocyx

Cocyx curl

Concave

Contract, an action of the muscle. Also a term in modern dance

Co-contract

Contralateral

Control. Defines a subset of exercises using the full body both on the mat and on the apps, as well as a guiding principle as to how we move

Coordination. Embodies a host of exercises all done with hands in straps. There is one version in the subset that is generally the designated and definitive Coordination

Coordination, a Pilates principle

Convex

Core

Corkscrew, an exercise

Coronal plane of movement

Corset is an oft used analogy to talk about the mid body slings

Cranking

Criss-Cross, a mat exercise

Cross-sit

Crucifix, an exercise

Cuboid bone. Landmark often referenced for foot placement

Curve, c-curve, s-curve

D

Dance medicine

Dead bug

Dead lift

Demi

Depress

Decelerate

Deltoid

Derrierre

Develop

Diamond (legs)

Diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing.

Dive for a Pearl, an exercise

Dolphin, an advanced exercise on the Cadillac

Donkey kick

Double-Leg Work. A subset of the mat work but often used to distinguish whether we’re doing both legs on the reformer (or other app) or just a single leg

Draw a Sword. A Turning Point exercise performed most often on the knees when in its glory

Dorsiflex; dorsi

Downward dog. Half dogs are also important

Draw a Sword, an exercise

Dynamic. Oft referred to quality of movement

E

Eccentric stretch

Elephant, an exercise

Elephant Arabesque

Elevate

Ellie Herman, a Pilates educator, author and inventor of the Springboard

Eve Gentry, a Pilates elder who gave us Eve’s Lunge

Extend

Extensors

Externally rotated

Exploding egg, this is a Victoriaism

F

Fascia, fascial release work

Femur

Femur head

Ferris Wheel. A Turning Point named exercise, quite elaborate

Figure-4 stretch

Fingertip placement

Fire Baton. Exercise on the short box

Flatboard

Flat back

Fletcher method, Fletcher towel work. From Joe and Clara’s protege Ron Fletcher. Los Angeles based

Flex

Flight, a mat exercise

Float

Floor work

Flow. A Pilates principle

Fluid

Foam (roller)

Form

[Foster Farms is a Turning Point named stretch whose name I have changed to Pretzel]

(all) Fours

Forearm plank

Form closure, force closure

Force

Forward-rounded

Freedom, a Victoriasm

Frog. Frog is 1) a position of the legs in general 2) an exercise

Front-body

G

Glide

Goalpost Arms. I use this synonymously with Cactus Arms

Grasshopper, an exercise

Ground, ground force energy

Grip (as in try not to grip your hip flexors)

Glutes

Gluteus Maximux, Medius, Minimus

Gastroc, short for gastrocnemius

Gyrotonic

H

Ha sound is an important phase of the breath

Hamstrings

Hawkins. Because I studied Erick Hawkins dance technique, I personally incorporate Hawkins methods in teaching, particularly on the Arc

Happy-baby pose, from yoga

Heart, or heart center. Usually in the yoga vein

Heel. Usually the actual calcaneous but you will also hear “heel in, heel out” to indicate an instruction

High heels or Stiletto Feet

Helicopter, an exercise

Hips. If you’re going to know your anatomy learn where and what the trochanters are

Hollow

Horizon

Hover

Humerus

Humeral head

Hundred. This exercise has many iterations all over the studio

Hug a Tree, an exercise

Hyperextend

Hyperlordotic

Hyperkyphotic

I

Ilium. Iliac crest

Imprint

Inhale, exhale

Integrate

Integrated work

Intercostals

Internally rotated

Inner, as in inner thigh

Ischial tuberosities (sits bones)

IT band, or ITB for iloiotibial band

J

Jackknife, an exercise

Jackrabbit, an exercise, so called by Turning Point Studios

Joe. Joe Pilates. Joseph Pilates. Joe’s breathing

Jumpboard. I’ve heard bouncy board, but I call it the jumpboard. When you’re not jumping and using it for leg and foot alignment I will call it the flatboard.

Jete

John Travolta. In the Turning Point tradition, a rigorous standing exercise

Joint

K

Kathy Grant, a Pilates elder who taught dancers at New York University. I love her pre-Pilates moves

Kinetic

Knit

Kneeling

Kneeling Cat

Kyphosis

Knee Stretch, an exercise, and a foundation for a few others in a series

L

Ladder barrel

Lateral

Layer

Letter

Letter L

Lift

Light a Candle, an exercise

Long Box. Versus Short Box. And not just what it is but how it is set up with your specifics in mind

Longitudinal

Long Spine, an exercise

Long Stretch. A component of the Up Stretch intermediate exercise, that is synonymous with a moving plank

Lordosis

Low heels

Lunge. In Pilates Land most often we are referring to the exercise done on the reformer. It should not be confused with the deep walking squat done at the gym. Because at Core Cat we also do yoga lunges, it is helpful if students associate these with the targeted stretch of the hip flexors. Lunging — the deep frontal invitation to open the hips is a big topic not least because of controversy. Therefore you will hear of different styles, like “Rick’s Lunge” and “Eve’s Lunge”

Latissimus Dorsi, Lats, Lat Work

M

Magic Circle

Magician, an exercise

Malleolus

Marching

Meditative

Metatarsal; metatarsal pads

Micro movement

Mini Cobra

Mindfulness

Mind-body connection

Medial, Medius

Mermaid, an exercise done on every piece of equipment as well as the mat

Midline

Mid-traps

Minimus

Mindful

Mobility

Monkey pose

Mountain Climber, an exercise on the Chair

Muscle fiber

N

Navel

Naiad, a Victoriaism

Neutral, a ubiquitous position of the spine, and of the pelvis

O

Obliques. Oblique chain. Oblique slings. Anterior obliques. Posterior obliques. Oblique stabilization

Occipital ridge

O’clock

Offering

Oov

Open Chain

Open Leg Rocker

Opposition, as in “strength through opposition”

Organize your core

Overhead Press, an exercise

Oval

P

Painting Underneath the Stairs

Palms (of hands)

Parakeet, an exercise series with multiple parts

Parallel

Passe

Toe strengtheners

Pecs. Pectorals. Pec minor. And major.

Percussive

Pelvis

Pelvic Floor. Oh boy.

Pendulum

Peroneals

Peter Pan. This is an exercise done with the feet in the straps. I’ve heard it referred to as “stag” and also “pas de chat”

Physical Mind Institute, a leader in the Pilates movement

Phrase

Picking Flowers, an exercise

Pike

Pike Abdominals, an exercise on the Wunda Chair

Pilates V

Pilates Principles

Pilates Control etc.

Pigeon pose, from yoga

Pigeon Toes

Pinwheel

Piriformis stretch

Pivot

Plank

Plantar flex

Plumb line

Pocket(s)

Point

Posterior tilt versus anterior tilt. Sometimes just referred to as tilts when done together. The teacher wants you to know the difference between tilt and bridge, but also to know that the tilt is the intro to the bridge.

Posture

Power House

Prancing

Prayer position

Prehensile

Pre-Pilates

Pretzel. Other teachers, from the Stott school for example, and I use this term to describe a deep and bound Figure 4.

Progression. Actually the name of a ref0rmer exercise, as well as a learning concept

Pronate

Prone

PSIS = Posterior superior iliac spine

Psoas stretch

Punching

Pulling Straps

Pump

Q

Quadruped

Quads, Quadricep stretch

QL = Quadrutus Lumborum. Both terms are used

R

Reformer, an apparatus

Rehab

Relax

Restorative

Retract, Retrieve, Release

Reverse abdominals, an exercise

Rhomboids

Rhythm

Ribs, ribcage, rib ring

Robotic.  I might tell an injured client to move “robotically” so as not to twist anything inadvertently

Rock, rocker

Rocking Swan, a mat exercise sometimes done on the Chair or Box

Rolldown

Rolldown bar

Roller

Rolling like a ball, a mat exercise

Rollup

Romana Kryzanowska, a well known Pilates elder

Rotate

Rotators

Round

Running in Place

S

S-curve

Sacrum

Sagittal plane of movement

Salute, a triceps exercise

Saucer

Saw

Scapula(e)

Sciatic nerve

Scissor

Scoop

Scooter, an exercise

Seal, a mat exercise

Semi Circle, an exercise

Serve a Tray, an arm exercise

Sha sound

Shave the Head. A variation of Salute

Short Spine, an exercise on the reformer

Short Box

Shoulder blades, Shoulder girdle, Shoulder mobility, Shoulder stabilizers, Shoulder work

Side Kneeling

Sidelying

Side plank

Side sit ups, Sideovers

Single Leg Work

Sits bones

Skateboard. This is an exercise we’ve seen in contemporary work and my students are the ones who named it Skateboard

Sleeper, an exercise series

Sling

Slow and gooey, a Victoriaism

Socket

Spine Corrector

Sprung from Below

Springboard

Squeeze

Snake, an exercise

Spear a Fish, an exercise

Speed Skate, an exercise on the reformer

Spiral

Spin

Splits. There are front splits, back splits, and side splits on the reformer

Squishy ball

Staccato

Stack

Standing Work

Standing Splits

Star, an exercise

Starfish, an exercise

Step Ups, Step Up Lunge, an exercise on the Chair

Stomach Massage, an exercise

Stott. A leading method and company in the Pilates movement

Strap

Studio reformer

Supinate

Supine

Surfer Girl, a contemporary exercise

Swan

Swimming

T

TA = transversus abdominus. You will hear both

Tabletop

Taut

Taper

Teacups

Teaser

Telescope

Tendon Stretch, an advance exercise

Tensile, tensility, tensegrity

Third Eye

Thoracic spine

TL junction

The letter T

Thread a Needle

Three-way stretch

Thigh stretch

Tempo

Tendon Stretch

Toe strengtheners

Toe taps

Toe work

Tower

Tower of Power

Tower Springs

Torque

Transition

Transverse plane of movement

Trapezius

Trapeze table

Traps

Transverse plane

Treading

Triceps

Tricep press

Tummy

Turned out

Turtle

Twist

Twisted this that and the other thing

U

Ulna

Under and Over

Up dog

Upper traps

Up Stretch

Upright Row

V

V arms

V-feet

Vastus Medialis

Vertabra(e)

Vinyasa

VMO, an exercise for the vastus medialus obliquus

W

Wall, as in abdominal wall

Warrior

Washerwoman, an exercise on the Wunda Chair

Waterfall, a Victoriaism

Waterski

Letter W

Widen

Windmill

Wings

Wrist

Wunda Chair, an Apparatus

X

X straps

X-sit

Y

Letter Y

Yoga block

Yoga strap

Yogalates

Z

Letter Z

Zig zag

Zip

 

 

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