Common Pilates Terms, Explained

The buzzwords you hear in Pilates class, defined! Our bodies speak the language of movement during class, but what about our minds when it comes to all the terms we hear during class?

Pilates terms

If you’re experiencing a bit of a language barrier when it comes to your Pilates classes, you’re not alone. Bookmark this article on Pilates terms and read it on your commute to the gym or the night before your next class for a serious level-up in your fitness knowledge! We’ve explained all of the common Pilates terms below.

Abduction:   Movements that take your limbs away from the center of your body.

Adduction: Movements that bring your limbs closer to the center of your body.

Anterior: This refers to your front side, and all the muscles that work to support it and move your limbs toward it.

Barrel: This is an apparatus that helps develop proper breathing techniques and train the spine for correct posture. It looks just as it sounds, like a barrel of hay!

BEAM: This is an acronym that refers to an abbreviated variation of the six core Pilates principles. It stands for breathe, energize, align and move.

Cadillac: Almost like the car, the cadillac is one of the most effective and versatile pieces of equipment in a classic Pilates studio. It’s often referred to as the rack, or trapeze, and sits above the Pilates table like a bed canopy.

Extension: This is a straightening movement where you increase the angle of your joints (e.g. straightening your arm).

Imprint: This refers to the process of tucking your tailbone and pulling your belly button in and up from a supine (laying down) position. This is often used most in classic Pilates classes where you’re lying on a mat or reformer.

Pilates Stance: This is essentially first position in ballet! Stand with your heels together and toes facing 45 degrees outward.

Plantar Flexion: This means point your toes! Extend your toes away from your shin, and flex your calves.

Post-Lateral Breathing: Our breaths are the most important part of any move, and actually control the quality of results we see. This term refers to allowing the entire rib cage to expand to the back and side of your body. It’s often the hardest breathing technique to master, so make sure to ask your instructor for proper form and guidance!

Scapula: This is your shoulder blade in anatomical terms.

Tabletop: This refers to the foundation of many mat Pilates and reformer exercises. You are on your knees with a 90-degree bend in your hips and your hands directly under your shoulder joints.

Tuck: This refers to the movement of rounding your lower back slightly to allow for abdominal contraction. To ace this move, slowly contract one vertebrae at a time upward, drawing your belly button toward your spine to lock in the movement.

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