One of my favorite college dance professors used to say, “there’s always room for one more in the front.” He was referring to the front line in class, closest to the mirror and his critical eye. More important than the literal position we took in class, I assumed he was referring to something deeper - courage and grit. He was referring to our potential for success and suggested it was open to anyone brave enough to go get it. I’ve referred to his advice time and time again in my life when I needed a quick pep talk to get over my fears of unworthiness.
Like many other Pilates professionals, I already had established careers before starting my teacher training - I was a professional dancer on cruise ships and then an administrative manager for American Ballet Theatre. By the time I started my first teacher training I was already 31.
When I worked on ships we had a pretty derogatory acronym for rookie crew members who hadn’t learned the ropes yet, “FNG” (Fuckin’ New Guy). Being the FNG is painful at any age, but can be truly humbling to be back at the bottom of the totem pole in your 30s...or in the case of some of my colleagues, in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Regardless of whether or not you have decades worth of courage and grit built up, fear and doubt can start to emerge at any age when you’re the FNG. Thoughts like: someone else has already done it...the market is too saturated...am I too late? Who do I think I am? What could I possibly have to offer? I don’t know what the hell I’m doing!
When I’ve been stifled by those discouraging thoughts I visualize a dance studio with lines of dancers preparing to learn a combination for an audition. I’m in the back line and have to make the choice to either let my fears take over and stay where I am (unseen and un-hired), OR find a gap in the 1st line and make a beeline to take my place at the front. Through this visualization I easily make space for myself and am reminded that there is no difference between doing this and whatever else I want to achieve in life.
Particularly in the world of Pilates, I think there is room for everyone who wants to be successful to step up to the front. One of my favorite clients is 63 years old and in the midst of completing her comprehensive Pilates training. It is not too late for her and there is no doubt in my mind that there is room for her if she wants to take it.
I’m especially inspired by this piece of advice as I start to share more of my personal writing which is one of the ways I plan to take my teaching to the next level. It’s hard to be the FNG and post a blog for the first time with no readers or followers out there to receive it, but nobody will ever see it if I don’t push my teaching and my writing up to the front to share it.
I have a feeling there is room.