Are you coming up against a language barrier at your Pilates classes? You’re not alone. From powerhouse and neutral spine, to pelvic floor, there are loads of terms to get your head around. But fear not. I’ve put together a handy glossary of Pilates terms so you can swot up for your next class. Let’s start with ‘A’.


You may hear the phrase ‘articulate the spine’ during your Pilates class. This is the act of rolling or unrolling your spine, one vertebra at a time. Think the Roll Down, or Shoulder Bridge.
Great for back mobility, it increases the amount of space between your vertebrae.


This is the shape the torso and spine make while you’re in a flexed (rounded forward) position. It’s the shape you’re trying to achieve in Pilates exercises such as Rolling Like A Ball.

Cervical Spine

Vertebrae in the neck, above the thoracic spine. There are seven vertebrae in this area (C1 to C7).


The motion of pulling the toes back toward the shins, flexing the foot at the ankle.


Straightening movement that increases the angle between two points. Straightening your arm is an example of extension. Extension is the opposite of flexion.


A bending movement that decreases the angle between two points. Bending your elbow or pulling your knee toward your chest are examples of flexion. Flexion is the opposite of extension.

Imprinted Spine

Refers to your spine being flat against the ground.


• Keep your tailbone in contact with the ground
• Slowly flatten each vertebrae of your spine one by one on the ground
• Pull your abdominals in to close any gaps.

Neutral Spine

Refers to a natural curve of your lumbar spine. When lying on your back there should be a small natural curve in the lower back. Make sure this curve is not too large or forced, or too small and flattened out.

Pelvic Floor

The muscular base of the abdomen, the pelvic floor stretches from the pelvic bone at the front, to the tailbone at the back, and side to side, forming the muscular structure that supports the bladder and bowel in men, and the uterus, bladder, and bowel in women.

When your teacher says ‘activate’ the pelvic floor, they want you to contract your pelvic muscles i.e. squeeze and pull in the muscles around your front passage (as if trying to stop yourself urinating), and the muscles around the back passage, (as if trying to hold in wind).

Pelvic Tilt

If your teacher says, ‘tilt your pelvis’, they want you to pull your tailbone in while pulling your abs toward your spine. This will lessen the arch in your lower back and engage the core.


Also known as the ‘core’, the powerhouse consists of your abdominal muscles, pelvis, lower back and buttocks.


Lying face down.


Position of the body when it is on its back. Many Pilates exercises are done in a supine position.


A lot of Pilates exercises progress from the tabletop position. Lie on your back, with your legs in the air, knees bent at 90 degrees, shins parallel to the floor – like a table top! You should feel a little something in your core if you’re in the right position.

The Hundred

One of Joseph Pilates’ original 34 exercises, The 100 sees you lying on your back, head and legs off the mat, arms by your sides, core switched on (pulled in), breathing correctly – you then beat your arms towards the floor 100 times. If performed correctly, it’s a core killer!

Leave a Comment