You may have heard a Pilates instructor say “Scoop the Abs” or “Draw the Belly Button to the Spine” or “Zip the Jeans” or “Engage the abs.” There are multiple ways to say it, but only one way to do it. It’s subtle and can be a challenge to figure out how to do properly. And, as if Pilates wasn’t complicated enough we have this thing called imprint vs. neutral, which is totally different.

If you aren’t sure what imprint and neutral are, check out this video to see the difference, but this blog is really about the fact that imprint and scooping the abs are two different things because people often think they are the same. And that misconception could make your back rather unhappy over time.

When you do pelvic tilts or rock from imprint to neutral your pelvis should move. When you zip the jeans, the pelvis shouldn’t move. Sometimes you Zip and Tuck, but you don’t always have to. It’s important to know that you can engage the abdominals without being imprinted. And that you don’t want to strive to be imprinted all day.

This video has some ways to practice the difference between engaging the abs and rocking into imprint. Remember, when you engage it shouldn’t be so firm that you can’t breathe. It should be gentle like you just feel your skin getting taut.

If you can’t find it, try doing a Kegel. When you do a Kegel the lower abdominal muscles we are trying to get you to connect with will automatically engage. Play with it, but be aware that scooping the belly and tucking the tailbone are different. And no one wants you to sit, walk or spend most of your day with a tucked tailbone, but there are benefits to spending your day with gentle ab engagement and awareness.

Happy playing! You’re all going to play with the difference between tucking and scooping now, right? That’s not just in my dreams? I’d love to hear how it goes or if you still have questions.