Pilates Information
Jillian Hessel Pilates Exercise
Los Angeles California Call 310-246-0082 Pilates Video

studio@jillianhessel.com

Pilates from A to Z

A Glossary of Terms

Much of the terminology below is drawn from the classic canon first conceived by Joseph Pilates, and later further developed by his best students; other terms (mostly of a metaphorical nature) are Jillian Hessel's own additions, intended to help students visualize the correct execution of an exercise and refine their body awareness.

 

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Abs
Or abdominals, referring to the muscles in the front of the stomach. They form part of the Powerhouse, which Pilates exercise is intended to strengthen.
Barrels
BarrelThe large and small Barrels are specialized Pilates apparatus that enhance breathing, develop both the arms and legs, and work the spine to help correct posture. Instead of using barrels, beginning students may substitute firm pillows.
B.E.A.M.
An acronym denoting the four Pilates Fundamentals that Jillian focuses on in her approach to training in her book and videos. The letters stand for breathe, energize, align, and move. B.E.A.M. is a simplified, condensed variation on the six core Pilates Principles, ideally suited for beginning students.
Body-mind connection
The state of focusing the mind on the body's movements. To some extent Pilates represents a blend of Western and Eastern approaches to fitness: one is dynamic, stressing motion, strength, and muscle tone, while the other is static, focusing on stretching, rest, and contemplation. An increased body-mind connection will allow clean, centered movement free from strain, while the physical exercises can relieve mental fatigue. In essence, the mind and body should not be in conflict, but should instead work in concert.
Breathing 100s
If you had gone to Joseph Pilates for a lesson half a century ago, this is the first of the classic mat exercises he would have given you. Breathing 100s works everything: your abs are engaged, your legs are stretched, your arms are pumping vigorously, and your lungs are fully inflated and deflated with each set.
Cadillac
CadillacAlso called "The Rack" or "Trapeze Table," this popular piece of equipment is one of the most effective and versatile of all Pilates apparatus. It comprises a raised, horizontal table top with a four-post frame to which are affixed a variety of bars, straps, springs, and levers. Jillian owns a Cadillac built by Joseph Pilates himself.
Centering
One of the most important of the six Principles of Pilates, and the main focus of the method, since all work starts from the center (or Powerhouse).
Chin tucked
Tucking the chin elongates the muscles in the back of the neck and can provide a good stretch for those who have a "forward head." However, avoid the tucked chin position when performing Breathing 100s or any other exercise that calls for rolling your upper body up off the floor.
Contrology
The name that Joseph Pilates originally gave to his method of exercise. Pilates is now the preferred and popular term.

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First-generation teacher
Refers to any teacher of Pilates who learned the Method directly under Joseph Pilates. Some of the most notable include Kathy Grant, Carola Trier, Ron Fletcher, Eve Gentry, Romana Kryzanowska, Mary Bowen, Lolita San Miguel, and Bruce King. The students of first-generation teachers who then become teachers themselves are known as "second-generation teachers."
Foot "on the walk"
A position where the full weight of the foot is balanced on the forefoot only — the heel is lifted off the floor.
Headlights
CadillacImaginary headlights that shine out from the front of your pelvic bones. Visualizing these headlights will help you to tuck and arch your pelvis until you achieve a neutral pelvis position with your headlights shining level straight in front of you.
Hip belt
An imaginary belt slung low across your hips, from one pelvic bone to the other. Visualizing tightening this belt will draw the hipbones closer together as you exhale to engage your transverse abdominals.
Imprinting
The action of isolating each individual vertebra of the spine, using either the breath and/or movement.
Inner eye
An internal sense of body awareness. Use your inner eye to scan your posture and alignment.
Intercostal muscles
The muscles that run diagonally between each rib (also known as rib cage abs). Intercostals help to control the expansion and contraction of your rib cage when you breathe.

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Level your eyes
To focus your eyes horizontally straight ahead of you. Leveling your eyes will help maintain proper neck and head placement, as well as enhance your balance.
Magic Circle
Magic CircleA simple isometric device comprising a flexible ring with handles. Can be used to firm the muscles of the upper arms, neck, and inner thighs (especially good for expectant mothers). In place of this piece of equipment, one may substitute a rubber ball with a diameter of about 12"-16".
Marionette string
An image to encourage lengthening throughout your spine. Visualize a string extending from the crown of your head to the ceiling, suspending your entire spine along its length, from head to tailbone.
Mat
The most basic and essential of all Pilates apparatus. Exercises done on the mat work the Powerhouse, including the abs, and lay the groundwork for all other exercise equipment.
Navel to spine
The process of drawing your abdominal muscles up and in as you imagine your navel drawing toward your spine. This is an original cue that was used by Joseph Pilates. Performing navel to spine as you exhale will increase stability in your torso and facilitate centered movements that emanate from your Powerhouse.
Neck lengthened
An element of good posture achieved by sending energy out the top of the head. A lengthened neck maintains the natural curve of the neck and counteracts compression of the vertebrae that can occur with slumping.
Neutral pelvis
The pelvis in its most naturally efficient alignment. It's neither tucked under nor arched back; nor is it tilting to one side. In this position, your "headlights" are level.
Neutral spine
A balanced spine that maintains its natural curves. Pilates encourages you to identify and achieve your neutral spine. A misaligned spine causes compensating muscles to work too hard, which can result in undue stress, fatigue, pain, and potential injury.

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Parallel stance
When the feet, ankles, knees, and legs are aligned directly under the hip joints, with the toes pointing forward. For most people, the inner borders of the big toes will be 4 to 6 inches apart in parallel stance.
Pelvic floor muscles
The deep internal muscles engaged when halting urination or performing a Kegel exercise.
Pilates Principles
The six core principles that govern the correct execution of Pilates exercises, namely, Breathing, Centering, Control, Concentration, Flowing Movement, and Precision. To gain the most from the method, you must understand and apply these six principles to each exercise you perform. Jillian Hessel teaches a simplified variation of these principles with her B.E.A.M. technique.
Pilates stance
A position of slight outward rotation of the thighs, originating from the hip sockets. When you stand in Pilates stance, the heels are pressed together and the toes point outward at 45° angles. When you perform the Breathing 100s in Pilates stance, the position is identical, but the feet are pointed.
Pooched abs
Abdominal muscles that are pushed out. Weak abs tend to pooch, which can strain the lower back.
Popping the ribs
Splaying and spreading the ribs. Popping the ribs weakens the torso and can overarch the back, as in military posture.
Powerhouse
The "girdle of strength" in the center of your body, just below your navel. Engaging your Powerhouse involves the lower abs, lower back, pelvic floor, and smile muscles. Jillian's award-winning exercise DVD, Pilates Powerhouse Workout, focuses on developing this vital center in students.
Reformer
ReformerThis Pilates apparatus is a sophisticated system of springs, straps, and pulleys, with a gliding platform on which you can sit, kneel, stand, or lie on the front, back, or side. It is designed to promote torso stability and postural alignment. You can perform more than 100 exercises on this versatile piece of equipment. The adjustable springs allow for progressive resistance, which helps in strengthening and lengthening muscles gradually.
Scooping your abs
To scoop your abs means to draw the deepest layers of the abdominal muscles up and in to stabilize the body and support the back. This action supports powerful movement emanating from the center of the body and helps to flatten your tummy.
Second-generation teacher
Refers to any teacher of Pilates who has learned the Method directly under one of Joseph Pilates' original students, known as "first-generation teachers." For example, Jillian Hessel is a second-generation teacher who studied under Kathy Grant, Carola Trier, Ron Fletcher, and Eve Gentry.
Shoulder blades into your back pockets
An image to encourage upper back and shoulder stability. Visualize your shoulder blades moving down your back into the back pockets of your jeans.
Sitting up out of your hips
An image to encourage length in the spine while seated. Initially, you may need to sit on a firm pillow to do this. Sending energy out of the top of your head and down through your pelvis will lengthen your spine and prevent slumping. Sit up out of your hips to achieve a neutral spine in the seated position.
Smile muscles
The muscles at the base of your buttocks, where the backs of your thighs insert into your pelvis. They form a smiling U shape under each buttock when engaged.
Sniff sniff, blow blow
A quick percussive breathing pattern used in conjunction with quick, precise movements. Breathe in percussively two times through your nose to inhale, and blow out percussively two times through your mouth to exhale. Don't be afraid to make noise while you breathe!
Spine Corrector
See Barrels.
Triangles
An image to suggest the internal and external oblique abs, which run on opposite diagonals across the front of your torso. Visualize two triangles: The first triangle uses the horizontal line between the hip bones as its base, with the point touching the navel. The second triangle is inverted, with its point also touching the navel, but its base stretches horizontally across the front of the rib cage. Also referred to as the "vest."
Two-way energy
The element of opposition used in Pilates exercise. Pressing the feet firmly into the floor while extending the crown of the head toward the ceiling is an example of two-way energy. Opposition creates power in the body, which helps you to focus on controlling your movements.

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Universal Reformer
See Reformer.
Vertebrae
VertebraeThe 32 to 34 bones that make up the spine. Between the vertebrae are intervertebral discs that add cushioning and elasticity. Structural problems in the spine, such as too much or too little curvature, cause poor posture. One of the benefits of Pilates is to strengthen the core muscles to improve posture.
Wunda Chair
A Pilates exercise apparatus designed to help you find and strengthen your Powerhouse. On this machine you can perform more than 75 exercises involving push-up-like moves with the arms. It also develops the knees and restores a sense of proper balance.
Zipper
An image to draw the lower abs up and in, as in "zipping the lower abs." Visualize zipping up a very tight pair of jeans, beginning at the level of your pubic bone.

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Jillian Hessel Pilates

Los Angeles, California
Phone 310.246.0082 • Fax 310.246.9963
studio@jillianhessel.com

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