O, be some other name!

The Pilates Exercises: What’s in a name?

Lebron and Jay Z make their own names for Pilates exercises

Joe Pilates is indeed responsible for some of the names of his exercises. However, back in the day at Joe’s original studio there were also exercises that were named by the clients. The names have undergone some changes since the advent of Pilates certification programs and nowadays variations do exist, for example The Double Leg Pull more recently called Double Leg Stretch.

The original names are simple and direct: Spine Stretch, The Roll Up. The names seem to come from what you look like (Roll Like a Ball, Elephant), what you are doing (Single Leg Pull, Spine Twist) or from what is required to accomplish the exercise (Control Balance).  Occasionally the name promises a massage, but oh you’ve got to work for it: Short Spine Massage, Rolling Stomach Massage, and dare I say Long Spine Massage (those of you who haven’t tried this one yet… well, you’ll see what I mean).

Sharon, a long time client and friend, is working toward more autonomy in her workout. Her current focus is learning the order and the names of her exercises. In the process she has arrived at some unorthodox names to remember the Reformer exercises. I can envision a brand new wacky Pilates world where Sharon’s “The Leg Guys” (Long Stretch) and “Round, Ass Out and The Partial” (Knee Stretch Series) proliferate in teacher training programs. Jay Grimes will not be pleased…Also “Uppie Downie” (Pelvic Lift) is a favorite. Did I mention that Sharon is an infant educator? Very interesting. 

Sharon is not alone with her creative titles for her favorite exercises. Love ‘em or not-so-much-more-than-tolerate-‘em, nearly everyone can name at least one of the exercises in their Pilates repertoire. Margy loves Semi-Circle although she saddles it with a rather unfortunate name: “The Prison Cot.” Along the lines of know-thine-enemy, Janet has no trouble remembering the name of her nemesis, an oft-despised exercise on the Short Box:Tree. And Dave embellishes the name of one of his very favorite exercises: “The Tower of Power.” Explicitly so he can request it, by name.

From Pilatesblog.com January 18, 2008:

Lebron James throws “the roc” aka Shaving on the Reformer

“Team USA beat Uruguay 118-79. As a tribute, Lebron threw up the roc. Team USA went on to clinch the gold by beating Argentina 118-81 to win the FIBA Americas championship qualifying Team USA for a spot in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing China. At the awards ceremony Lebron threw up the roc again. When asked what does it mean? James replied: 

“It’s a Pilates move. I can never remember the names of all the moves, so I just give them my own names, such asJesus H and No Way in Hell. Anyway, there’s one exercise on the Reformer— I think the original name is shaving or shave to the head or something — where you make a triangle with your hands on your forehead and then extend your arms at a 45 degree angle. When my Pilates instructor first showed me, I just called it the roc to make it easier.”  

Hands on your forehead?? But you’re Lebron James! Get those hands behind your head!

And I so want to know which exercise you refer to as No Way in Hell. I title nearly every explosive lightning-fast thing Lebron does as No Way in Hell. Like that whole vertical leap thingie. Let’s call that one The High Frog. Sorry Tony Parker. 

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Andrea Maida

Andrea Maida

A native of Pittsburgh, Andrea began her study of the Pilates method in 2000. She holds two comprehensive certifications from Romana’s Pilates in New York and Excel Movement Studios in Washington, DC.  Andrea continues to study with numerous world-class instructors including Romana Kryzanowska, Jay Grimes, Sari Mejia-Santo, Junghee Kallander, Cynthia Lochard, and Kathryn Ross-Nash whenever possible. Andrea was privileged to be in the inaugural class of The Work at Vintage Pilates under the direction of Jay Grimes, 1st Generation Master Teacher and student of Joseph Pilates. 


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