My Dirty Little Secret

body collage

My 20 something self. My 30 something self.

 The dirtiest little secret a professional Pilates instructor can have is well, they aren’t doing Pilates themselves. I am supremely guilty of this. It has been months since my last workout, and  I’ve been playing what feels like a charade with my clients acting as if I’ve been putting myself through the same paces I put them through. I watch idly by as the other teachers in my studio (yes, I own my own studio) get in their required 55 minutes. Sweating, stretching, strengthening immersed in their own practice like it was more than a habit, it was a necessity. I wasn’t always like this. As a young instructor I took lessons with more experienced teachers like my life depended on it. I was hungry for knowledge and wanted to “feel” the work in my body before I could relay it to someone else. So what the heck happened then?

 It’s easy to simply say I got lazy, bored, or busy, and then force myself back into practice, but that plan never lasts. I get resentful and bitter, and no one likes a Pilates instructor who sits at the back of the studio on a stool smoking a cigarette, drinking a martini, and lamenting about how back in the day we did this and that. In midst of my uncertainty I took spinning in lieu of my Pilates sessions, touting the “Doubt means don’t” adage. Doubt as I may, I do know for sure there is no replacement for Pilates. It’s either Pilates or no Pilates.

 Last week after a session, I confessed to a particularly wise client. Her reaction was more concern than critique, which is when her words hit me. “You’re avoiding it aren’t you?” I was avoiding it, but why? A little introspection yielded unexpected results. I am heavier than I’d ever been, by 20 pounds and (duh) it’s no surprise that I’m reluctant to watch myself stuffed into my Lululemon in the studio mirrors. I was out of Pilates shape and nothing felt like it used to. My body had changed but I hadn’t changed my Pilates practice. I was dodging what used to feel easy and fluid in my tiny dancer body since  it now felt awkward and uncompromising. Why should I do something that makes me feel like a stiff plump sloth? I felt more at home hiding under my regular clothes and in the dimness of the spin studio.


So, while it’s easy to blame the Pilates: “I’ve done it all”, “It’s boring”, “it’s expensive”, “I’m too busy when I’m in the studio to get a workout in”, and the all time fav, “I just don’t feel like it”. It’s much more effective to take the responsibility on myself. I had changed and hadn’t allowed myself to reshape the work to look good on me. Here are three things I did to get my shapely body back into the studio:

Look Good to Feel Good.

There is no rocket science here. When you feel good in what you’re clad in you just feel better. My drawers were filled with size 4 workout pants and tops that didn’t support my bountiful bosoms. Everyone always says “Don’t buy larger sizes, work to get back into the small ones”, but I call bullshit on that. My size 4 body wasn’t normal on my 5’8” frame. Yeah, I could stand to loose a few lb.’s but it’s a little cray cray to try and get back to my 23 year old self. I went out and got a couple new pieces that made me feel like a million bucks. Now I was not only motivated to sweat but I alleviated the fear of bursting into tears when I glanced in the studio mirrors.

Distract Thy Self

Now, now Pilates fanatics don’t freak. I’m all about Joe’s principle of mind building body, but sometimes too much focus (especially on what you don’t want) isn’t such a good thing. Part of motivating myself to get back in the studio and do some damn Pilates was to distract myself from the fact that I’m doing it. I would pull another teacher in for an impromptu duet. I would put on some kickin’ beats so I couldn’t hear my negative thoughts. I took a session from my peers to prevent being left to my own lax devices. You may have been taught that Joe would roll over in his urn at something less than the traditional ways of working out, but if it’s broke y’all got to fix it!

Make It Fun

As a young teacher Pilates reminded me a lot of dance class. Not because the moves were similar but because I was poked, prodded, and put down for not being good enough. I desperately wanted to be better, stronger, and get the praise of my instructor just like back in my ballet days. This slowly tainted the work for me and it’s not surprising that over time I got a sour taste in my mouth. Katherine Hepburn said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” I finally decided to practice what I preach and make my time on the apparatus or mat fun time. If I wasn’t having fun it wasn’t worth it.

Want to help distracting yourself from a tough workout? We know just how to motivate you and get you closer to your fitness goals. Email us studio [at] formpilates [dot] com to schedule a quick consult with our expert concierge to help you find your Pilates match.

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16 thoughts on “My Dirty Little Secret

  1. Lindsay, this speaks to me! I totally blow off my own workouts and find other things to do. And it’s not like I don’t love Pilates or know how much it does for me. It’s been over 25 years and Pilates has gotten me through surgeries, accidents, and all kinds of upheaval. I am going to get on a reformer right now!

    • LOL!!! Let’s all get on the reformer right now!
      All the response I’m getting is inspiring me to make workouts for instructors and clients alike a weekly thing. We are all more motivated to workout together don’t cha think?
      Thanks again for commenting Lynda!

  2. Oh man! This is my current struggle. I do my weekly Gyrotonic duet and occasional stretching on my own, but any “real” workout or Pilates session is M.I.A from my life. It totally makes me feel like a hypocrite as I teach (and truly believe in) the importance of a consistent Pilates practice. Yet, there is no sign of it in my life. A newer client asked me just the other day how many days a week I workout. I was embarrassed by the truth, so I made my answer vague. I thought to myself, “how am I supposed to be an inspiration and positive example to my clients if I’m not practicing what I’m preaching?”

    • From all the feedback I’m getting I realize now that we are not alone. No one wants to be honest and share their struggles, so thank you Nicole.
      What if we took a different approach and instead of being ashamed of our human-ness we shared it with our clients? Could they be inspired to be kinder to themselves if they know that we too struggle with taking the time for ourselves and being consistent in our workouts? It could help them shed their fears about being perfect or “good” at the work. Thoughts?

  3. I love this post! As a fellow business owner and formerly fit person, I totally get it!! Over the past few years, I’ve had to realize my routine of 5-6 workouts a week just didn’t work with my current lifestyle and I am better off planning 2-3 workouts I will actually accomplish than setting the bar too high. Thankfully, I do not have to wear Lululemon in front of my skin care clients!

    • LOL Hannah!!! Maybe I need to rethink my profession and go into beauty…but then I guess it’s the same thing when you forget to wash your face at night and show up to work with a huge zit! Aren’t we all human? Doesn’t our weight fluctuate and our faces sometimes breakout???

  4. I could not love this or you more! Such a brave post! And no you are definitely not alone… It is a constant battle to practice what we preach and find time to focus on our own health & fitness as well as that of our clients. I vote yes on doing instructor workouts! I know I would be there!!

  5. I love this! Sometimes I am teaching Pilates and talking about Pilates so much that I feel like I am laying in a pool of Pilates vomit. The last thing I feel like doing is working out. I do have Pilates guilt so I force myself on that reformer 3 times a week and always feel better after. And I too have gotten rid of my size 4 pants.

  6. Wow! Thank you! I always tell my clients, “If you have a question, at least one other has the same question.” Well, know I know at least one other Pilates Instructor feels the same as I do and I am also ‘stuck’. But not anymore. I see hope. Thank you again!

    • Thanks for your comment Cynthia! It’s nice to know people still read my stuff and find inspiration. I am going to do a reformer workout today in honor of this!

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