Very often in Pilates classes whether I have a beginner class learning all new exercises or an intermediate class trying something quite challenging for the first time, clients often see new exercises. Often there is laughter because some of the exercises like the Seal look ridiculous even though they challenging you in ways none of the other exercises do. But there are also comments and a laughter of disbelief. People often tell themselves they can’t do it before they even try.

Then they do the exercise and do it quite well. It may not be perfect and it may not be perfected for weeks. With some body types it may never get perfected. The exercise may always be a challenge, but (assuming there aren’t restrictive injuries) most people can do it to varying degrees.

It seems societal that we put ourselves down before we even begin something as if that makes it okay if we fail. Why do we think it’s bad to fail at something? Of course we are scared of the consequences or in the case of Pilates we’re nervous about looking stupid or feeling weak, but the truth is, if we fail we can 1) try again and 2) prove that we were brave enough to experiment and try something new. Think of how many people hold themselves back because of how afraid they are.

At least when clients make comments in class they then try the exercise. I just can’t help but wonder if we didn’t put ourselves down before starting, would we improve faster? If we believed we could do something, while recognizing that we may not be perfect at the start and understanding what we need to alter to keep improving, perhaps we’d improve faster. The mind is a powerful tool. It can convince us of almost anything.

I know it’s human nature. And I don’t mind the comments in class, especially since everyone takes the risks and tries, and I see everyone improve from session to session. But it is okay and probably a good thing for all of us to believe in ourselves a little more–to know we can (even if it’s going to take some practice.)