In my workouts, I often come upon an exercise that I find particularly challenging. My legs are shaking, my abs are popping out (when they should be staying in), sweat is blinding my eyes. I want to give up. I want answers. Why can’t I do said exercise with ease and grace? I want the pain in my hip-flexers and quads to migrate to my middle. So, I ask whichever teacher I’m working with, either Shari Berkowitz or Bob Leikens, and, I always elicit the same response, “WORK HARDER!”
I take sessions with these master teachers in hopes that their resolve and sometimes strident corrections will, by osmosis or other magical means, meld me into a Pilates superstar. The truth is, I do my weekly workouts on my own, but just can’t get as much out of them.
I give up too easily on myself.
My senior year in high school I dropped out, ran away from home, and moved to Hawaii. I know, pretty dramatic huh? I spent two glorious years there, somehow making a life for myself despite my naivete. When I returned home, I finished my high school work and earned my diploma. After my time away, I lost the momentum of learning and didn’t end up going to college. What could school teach me that I didn’t already know? I was working as a professional dancer, living on my own, paying my own way. Who could teach me more than life already had?
I went on to go to dance school at a prominent studio in LA, and eventually became a Pilates instructor piecing together my learning when I had the extra cash. I was successful, if not in traditional terms. Living on my own in my own apartment and scraping by with odd jobs between dancing gigs. I eventually bought my own reformer with cash from a particularly lucrative gig and saw clients out of my home, I was suddenly a small business owner.
Years later, when the murkiness of inexperience faded away, I reflected back on my life to see where I’d been. Frankly, although I had been places and done things, I felt like a fraud. I had no degree, I had no job, I was in my 30’s and I had no health insurance or a ring on my left hand. In society’s view, I was nowhere but here. I was sore at all those responsible for my deficiencies. My parents for not chaining me to bed when I wanted to skip town. The absent school counselor who didn’t instruct me to research schools that cater to budding artists like me. My ancestors for not making it big and leaving me a trust fund.
It was right then that a very wise woman (my therapist) reminded that I shouldn’t assassinate the one person I was left with, me. So, while the absence of all the things in my life is real, ultimately it’s up to one person to work harder and deliver it to me. That’s yours truly. When the exercise feels unbearable and impossible, it’s up to me to rally and make it happen, “Work Harder!” When I’m lonely, or abandoned, or slighted, it’s up to me to supply the cure. Don’t kill the messenger, or yourself. You’re all you really have.
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