Pilates Anatomy w/ Simona Cipriani & Joe Muscolino

Anatomy on the Small Barrel

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Watch and learn as Simona and her husband Dr. Joe Muscolino demonstrate what is happening to our bodies anatomically when we use the Pilates Small Barrel. Joe teaches anatomy and physiology at SUNY Purchase College and his vivid explanation makes clear exactly why the Small Barrel does it's job of opening the chest, shoulders, neck and upper back so well. We guarantee you'll want to head straight for a small barrel after watching this video ;). Visit Simona's studio in Stamford, Connecticut at The Art of Control and Dr. Joe Muscolino at LearnMuscles.com.

What Others Are Saying


  1. Maigualida
    Maigualida 11 months ago

    Hola! question; when we on long box series t press or pulling straps cue scapula down is that bad or in that case not ? base on the Kinetics movement that your husband explain .

    thank you soo much

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 11 months ago

      Hi Maigualida,

      That is a very good question and a bit hard to write, but I will try to be brief here:)
      So, Pulling the Straps and T-Position are two different positions of the scapulae in relationship to the arms and shoulder joints.
      In Pulling the Strap the focus should be more in the arms extention as well as the depression of the scapulae and of course there is also the retraction as well.
      On the T-Positions there is more a focus on the retraction of the scapulae and the extention of the upper body. Because the scapulae are already positioned into the back/retracted
      and the shoulders elevated, when you pull the arms on your sides, the scapulae are working more for upward rotation. This combination of motion will help the midd and upper back to work into the extention position (like the Swan).
      I hope this make sense….if not, please do not hesitate to contact me ok? Maybe if I show you physically you will see it better 🙂
      thanks for the fun question:)

      • Simona Cipriani Author
        Simona Cipriani 11 months ago

        sorry for the confusion…I wanted to correct one thing…..
        “Because the scapulae are already positioned into the back/retracted
        and the shoulders elevated, when you pull the arms on your sides, the scapulae are working more for downward rotation”.
        Hope this helps:)


  2. pjennings 2 years ago

    Yikes! I’m looking through all of your videos and I see that you have done one, “Your Skeleton on the Spine Corrector”, which has the skeleton in position for “leg series”. Sorry to take up so much “comment” space.

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 11 months ago

      No Problem
      let me know if you still have any questions on this ok?

      Thanks for connecting again:)

  3. pjennings 2 years ago

    I should have worded my previous comment better……didn’t mean hip placement on the barrel, but “opening of the hips” during leg series and how that affects the spine. Thank you!

  4. pjennings 2 years ago

    I recently purchased my own Gratz small barrel, so LOVE this video…SO helpful! I would love to see a video discussing “hip placement” on the small barrel for leg series as well! Thank you, both, so much!

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 2 years ago

      Hey there! Not problem you can take as much as space as you need…. I am glad you liked the videos on the Barrels and I am so happy to hear you got one too!
      Enjoy it and feel free to reach out via FaceTime if you want to discuss the placemet on the small barrel ok?
      I will be happy to help:)
      Thanks for your comment ????

  5. Soulbodyworks 2 years ago

    Thank you for making this very informative video. Joe makes anatomy easy to understand and his books/reference materials always help me to be a better instructor and guide for my students!

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 2 years ago

      Than you so much for letting me know.
      I will tell joe and he will be very happy to hear!

      Let us know if there is anything you would like to see ok?
      Also, in case you want to see more of Joe and his EXTENDED material visit his web site ok?

      See you soon,

  6. PilatesRoyalty 3 years ago

    Love this!!

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 2 years ago

      Me Too…
      Thank you:):):)

  7. Simona Cipriani Author
    Simona Cipriani 3 years ago

    Hi there,

    yes, that is our plan :):)
    Thank you for your suggestion…let us know if there is something more specific you want us to start with…

    Thanks a lot:)

  8. InBalance
    InBalance 3 years ago

    WOW Finally someone that can professionally justify it all. Thank You. Do you have something on lordosis…… 🙂

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 3 years ago

      Hi In Balance,

      Thank you for the compliment…there is so much to learn!!! I am just happy that Joe can share his wealth of knowledge with all of us:)
      I would love to spend more time on the next video to include your needs, so please be more specific about the question you are asking.
      Lordosis is a curve on the lower back and neck; did you mean hyper lordosis on the lumbar spine as a problematic area for people?
      Let me know so we can be more specific for you:)

      Thank you for the suggestion,

  9. Rudybecka 3 years ago

    This was honestly WONDERFUL!! Extremely helpful and very appreciated!! Thank you and please record more combs with your husband…it was a gift to learn from you both.

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 3 years ago

      Hi Rudybecka,

      I am so appreciative of all your comments, suggestions and encouragement…
      Please let me know what it would be of more interest to for future videos:)

      Buon Pilates, and thanks for watching:)

  10. Elizabeth Brown Meier

    I love this video. Anatomy and physiology is a love of mine…????
    Can you talk a bit more about the shoulders going up and the ribs moving forward as the skeleton extends? I have been taught both ways, but it feels more natural to allow the shoulders to elevate. The ribs staying in or closed does not feel natural or normal.
    Thank you. More please of the biomechanics with your husband, you tow were great!

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 3 years ago

      Hi Elizabeth,
      sorry for the delay… it is so good to hear from you:)

      As you may mentioned and probably know about anatomy, you know that answering specific and more detail question is always a bit hard via mail…
      I can tell you from my experience and my training with Romana, that we taught very “constricting/proximal” motion for basic and for flexible clients.
      When the client progressed into a more “intermediate level” we got more involved in going out side the frame/more distal, and less confining in the ribs.
      When the scapula “acts” as a lever during the extension of the upper thoracic spine, when the arms are up by the ears, using the exhale and the “gentile” closure of the ribs from the anterior abdominal area, is used to increase some compression in the ribcage and spinal column to improve the motion in the ribs and the area around them. The idea is to use the barrel as a base support for the bones to open up more….
      I do not recal Romana constricting a more advanced student/client with the ribs as much as they do nowadays. I hope this helps a bit.
      I will ask Joe to work with me on this for the future as well and “expand” on this:):):)
      Thanks so much for the detailed question….love that!

  11. Simona Cipriani Author
    Simona Cipriani 3 years ago

    Hello there J,

    yes, I would love to do more of these my self and will definitely post more soon….
    thank you for your enthusiasm 🙂

  12. ewapilates
    ewapilates 3 years ago

    … just a second: “a slight tuck of the lower body”????? So, according to Sonje and many more – there is NO TUCK??? Finally, is there a tuck, or NOT?!? Shall we clarify it once and for good?!!!!! please!

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 3 years ago

      Hello ewapilates, and thank you for watching.
      I am not sure how to answer this, fortunately in Pilates there is some room for individuality. I will say that I do avoid the “word” tuck, for the most part, to avoid people contracting the muscles very strongly in a downward manner, to create a movement in the lumbar sacral area, that can be done in a more suttle way…this is a bit extreme. What I believe to be the intention here is to create a lifted and even C-Curve that encompasses the entire spine. If you take a look at the sacrum and tell bone’s shape ,you can see that is curved/rounded forward and that allows us to roll smoothly on our backs. So there is no much need to emphasize the curve there, but there is a need to curve the lower back/lumbar spine to create the elongated C-Curve throughout the spine. In my opinion the word “tuck” may not be working well for a lot of people only because it is not the downward direction of movement we want to focus on, however it may work for some people. As a intelligent instructor you will have a good sense and eye to see what your client needs in terms of cuing the correct movement for them. I hope this helps:)

  13. Victoria Sommer 3 years ago

    Great, awesome really! Thank you!
    Really funny too, the skeleton on the barrel! Had to laugh..

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 3 years ago

      Thank you Victoria,

      yes!!! Joe and I have a lot of fun with the two skeletons in the office/studio one more flexible than the other…hahha:):):)

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 3 years ago

      Hi Victoria,
      sorry for the delay…

      yes, I love to use the skeleton it is fun and very helpful to visualize the structure of the movement…right?

      Thank you so much,

  14. Jyc268 3 years ago

    This was so helpful!! Can we please have an entire series of this for different exercises on different equipment? Thank you!

    • Simona Cipriani Author
      Simona Cipriani 2 years ago

      Hello there,

      We have a few videos coming up soon with other pieces of equipment…
      Do you have any suggestions?
      which one were you think of?

      Let us know ok?


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