We tend to assume people are watching us do every exercise. It must be human nature. The great thing about Pilates is that everyone is so focused on all the intense and specific muscle control required that no one has the time or ability to be watching other people. Sure people will steal a quick look if they aren’t sure whether they are doing an exercise right, but then they are watching not to compare, but to learn.

Admittedly, some of the exercises in Pilates put people in awkward positions and clients often ask, “Is this a real exercise?” It always is real, but it’s another time that no one is watching. Those sometimes seemingly bizarre positions are usually quite challenging and no one has the time to compare then either.

Even if people were trying to compare each other–like in life–it would be nearly impossible. People do not know each other’s challenges and what they have to overcome. Leg circles could be easy for someone with no hip problems, but an individual who has had a hip replacement may always try the beginner version of leg circles.

So anyone who ever feels silly or like they are struggling with an exercise in a group class can rest at ease. No one is comparing you and I suspect most people feel that way at one point or another.

I find more often in classes that people support each other. In my corporate classes (classes I teach at businesses where people already work together) individuals are very supportive. When someone completes an exercise they haven’t been able master, the group will applaud. Everyone is happy by another’s success, especially when working as a team. This will occasionally happen in regular group classes as well. Even though people don’t know each other outside of class, they will support one another when they know someone is overcoming a challenge.

In this world there are people who compare each other. That’s human nature too, but generally in class people are supportive and want everyone to feel good. So next time you’re doing a Pilates exercise and you feel ridiculous or like it’s so obvious you can’t do it right, rest assured other’s probably feel that way too and they are too busy trying to figure out how to do it right to be observing what anyone else is doing.

(If you’re interested in reading more about comparing people, check out this personal essay I had published in the Christian Science Monitor this week: http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0804/p19s03-hfes.html)