Pilates Lingo, Defined

Featured Article, Fitness, News and Advice
on August 1, 2011

Do you speak Pilates? Tracey Mallet, master pilates instructor and creator of Pilates Super Sculpt ($19.95, amazon.com), shares her handy vocabulary cheat sheet to help you get through class like a pro.

Pilates V: Similar to first position in ballet, but not as wide. Keeping the heels together, turn your legs outward from your hips (not the knees or ankles), which will open the feet into a V-shape. This position works the glutes and inner thighs.

Neutral Spine: Keeping a natural arch in the lower back versus flattening it against the floor. To find this position, flatten the lower back to the floor, then reverse, arching the lower back upward and off the ground. Now release and find a position in between. Voila—this is your neutral spine, and it will help you work your abs more efficiently and avoid lower back compression.

Pelvic Tilt: From a neutral spine, engage your abs and tilt your pelvis upwards, leading with the pubic bone. You’ll go through this position in a pelvic bridge and rollovers from classic Pilates exercises, working the transverse abdominals, the abs that wrap around your midsection like a corset.  

Scoop Out the Abdominals: As you exhale, draw the abs in toward the spine. Think of the impression a scoop leaves on ice cream. That concave shape is how your belly should look.

Elongate the Spine: You may also hear “lengthen through the crown of the head” or “draw your shoulders away from your ears.” Lift the top of your head upward and relax your shoulder blades down toward your hips. This prevents slumping and activates the muscles of the upper spine and torso to give you the most bang for each exercise.