I became enlightened! … haha, well- not exactly- but I felt AMAZING and some very magical things DID occur.
First of all, let’s clarify what I mean by, “doing Pilates.” Most days this meant putting my body through a variety Pilates exercises (duh) on Pilates equipment (double duh). A few days though, “doing Pilates” simply meant exercising/moving my body with the intentions of centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow.
OK! now that we’re on the same page about what I think doing Pilates is… here’s the magical stuff:
I started waking up before my alarm. Say what!?
Without changing any of my other habits like nutrition or bedtime, somehow by committing myself to a daily Pilates practice I started to feel more naturally energized. Before starting this 30 day challenge my alarm would jolt me out of sweet slumber with an aggressive slap across the face, ugh. Now my eyes flutter open just before the scheduled face slapping - a bold power move by my body- and I’ve decided to credit this to Pilates.
I can’t find my knee pain. Not mad about it!
I was delighted to discover that by increasing the frequency of my Pilates practice, I didn’t have to sacrifice any of my other favorite exercise modalities (running, biking, and yoga). In fact, after months of severe knee pain while running, I’m finally able to slowly ramp up my mileage again! With the added focus on hip mobility and adductor/abductor, glut/quad strengthening through Pilates, my running was more supported than it had been previous to this 30 day challenge.
I made new friends. Who knew!?
Just before the start of the month I discovered a few other Pilates instructors and enthusiasts on Instagram who had also made the social media declaration of a 30 day daily practice. I challenged myself to reach out to them, and through our connection I felt an important layer of accountability and community. As a raging introvert who prefers to stubbornly do my work solo, stretching myself in this way was an important and humbling reminder on how much more successful we can be when we support and share with others.
“Am I doing this right?”... As an instructor and a forever-student I’ve been on both sides of this question, but what is REALLY being asked here?
Generally - as long as there isn’t pain - I think people are “right enough” to KEEP MOVING and allow more instruction to come as they move.
Brand new clients usually require more firm, black-and-white instruction. Instead of overwhelming them with my woo woo “there is no wrong” philosophy- I’ll usually answer with “you’re doing great!”...and then sprinkle in some positively phrased directions to keep them moving with confidence.
If I hear the “am I doing it right” question from someone I’ve been working with for a while, it helps to figure out what they REALLY mean in order to gain clarity and avoid frustration. Below are some of the different meanings I’ve discovered behind the “am I doing this right” question and how I address them:
This is new & I feel awkward
Assuming things will be effortless and beautiful the first time we try them is unrealistic. If an exercise is brand new to a client there is a good chance it will feel awkward and even look like a hot mess. This is part of the process of learning and progressing in the practice. In these cases I will gently ask my client, “isn’t this your first time doing this exercise?”...and then remind them of the first time they tried short spine, or some other life event for the first time. I’m also mindful not to fill a session with 100% new content which can sometimes discourage or frustrate clients both new and experienced.
I don't FEEL this
As someone who feels all the feels, this one is sometimes tough for me as an instructor. I've been a mover all my life, but through teaching I’m reminded that this is not the case for a lot of people and some clients are even somewhat disconnected from their physical bodies. If I’m lucky to get the feedback from a client that they don’t FEEL anything in the intended area of focus, then I have enough tools in my toolbox to offer alternative variations or different cues to help stimulate...something. But sometimes they still don’t feel anything- and you know what- THAT'S OK! As a Pilates instructor it is my job to teach exercises to the best of my ability, not to shame people into feeling a sensation in a particular muscle. I want people to feel successful after a session and proud of themselves for getting curious about how their bodies move. Just because they don’t FEEL it, doesn’t necessarily mean its wrong.
Do I look good?
Pilates is not a performance or part of an audition for a major dance company. It doesn't actually matter how ugly or pretty we do the exercises. That being said, some people really need validation to keep moving, and once I learn this about a client I will (usually) give it to them. Ultimately I just want people to move, but if possible I’d like them to feel good about it too.
Is this what you wanted?
Sometimes a client will misunderstand my instruction and start moving in a way that I did not intend. Depending on where they go with it I’ll often allow them to carry on intuitively as it can be a pathway to inspiration. Sometimes though... I’ll make a face (enter smirky-face emoji here). In this case if the client asks me if what they’re doing is right, I’ll be honest and say something like, “truthfully its not what I intended but what you’re doing is great and I’m inspired. Keep moving.”