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.
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