A couple times in classes last week people mentioned how well I do pilates. It is and isn’t true. Sure, I’m good at pilates and can do advanced exercises. I’d be somewhat delusional if I said otherwise, but let’s be realistic too, I chose this for my career. I hope I’m reasonably good at it.
(In this picture it looks like I could lift up from my bottom ribs some more, and I probably should knit my ribs because I’m popping my chest out too far.)
Now, here is something else to think about: Just like everyone else, I do the exercises in my own body. I often go to class and see some of my students, especially the ones who have been doing the exercises for years perform certain exercises better than I do. Sometimes our bodies are just made for a certain exercise. Take teaser for example. That is supposed to be one of the hardest exercises in pilates. In my body it’s really not that hard. And if you take a class at Personal Euphoria or somewhere else, you may take the class once a week or maybe you even take pilates four times a week for a total of four hours out of 168 hours a week. When I am coming to a class and I’m going to teach a new exercise, I’ve practiced it so that I can do it well or at least fake it till I make it. And, in fairness, I probably practice pilates more than any of our average clients. I try to do pilates everyday (not always feasible because I am really busy), but when I get stuck on something it’s really important to me to work on it. When I first learned the full roll up I couldn’t do it. Over the course of three days, I practiced that exercise over and over for about nine hours. Crazy, right? You might not want to commit that kind of time to it, and you might not need to either. I wanted to really understand precisely how it felt in my body so that I could teach it better.
(In this image I could retract my shoulders a little, and I don’t have my belly button pulled toward my spine.) When I trained with Ron Fletcher he criticized my collar bone and the way I lifted my arm. I went back to the hotel that night and all night and the following morning sat in front of the mirror experimenting with different ways to lift my arm until I got it the way he wanted it. I’m fascinated by movement and the way the body works in a way many people aren’t. I would hope that with all that commitment and time I’ve given over to pilates, I might be a little better at some of the exercises or perhaps pick them up a little faster. Plus I can cheat. About a year ago I pulled my right oblique. When I came to class I only did exercises on my good side so people could see how they should be done. Also, very few of our clients have been certified in pilates, so you have not trained your eye to see when I’m screwing up. It’s pilates—it’s never perfected. That’s part of what makes it so cool in my mind. There is always something to learn when you are ready for the next step. When I’m on my stomach I have a really hard time keeping my tailbone tucked if I don’t hear the cue to remind me to do it. The side leg series is almost impossible for me to do right if I have my legs in the right position and I don’t use my top arm for balance. When I practice pilates alone at home, I make mistakes on the exercises. When I take a group class I probably make less because the instructor’s cues help me out. When I take a private class, I still make mistakes. I forget to knit my ribs or I don’t keep my hips level. Sometimes even when there is an exercise I’m really good at, I screw I up just because my mind is somewhere else. I may be good at the exercises because I practice a lot and it’s sort of my job to be a least reasonably good at them, but they are still really hard for me. And just as most of our clients haven’t been trained to see my flaws, you haven’t been trained to see your strengths. But please know that I see them and often admire them.