I love fitness. I always have. The most frustrating thing for me as an obese child growing up in an obese family was lack of physical activity. I felt trapped inside my body. I couldn’t understand why my body didn’t bend, twist and maneuver the way other kids’ bodies did. Why couldn’t I tumble, use the monkey bars and dodge the ball quicker? I felt like an athlete and I succeeded at some sports; but I never felt as if I lived up to my true potential. I’ve made it a mission to find that lost athlete inside me in my adult years.
I’ve done pretty well--with quite a few injuries and setbacks. I’ve even taken my passion a step further and become a certified personal trainer, registered yoga teacher and an indoor cycling instructor. I am an editor and writer for the most respected magazine for fitness professionals in the industry, IDEA Fitness Journal. I have learned a lot about the body and I am constantly learning more. I’m very happy with my progress and yet, something has always bothered me: Pilates.
It’s not that I don’t like Pilates; I just never felt that drawn to it. I’ve been researching, writing and creating content for Pilates professionals for more than 10 years now. I’m also senior editor for IDEA Pilates Today, a publication solely dedicated to the topic of Pilates. When it comes to exercise physiology, biomechanics, group fitness trends and techniques and anything related to yoga, I feel quite confident. Not so with Pilates. Honestly, I’ve felt like a bit of a fake. I don’t think it’s necessary to be a Pilates professional or enthusiast to be the lead editor of a publication; however, I do feel it’s important to have a visceral understanding of your content. I’ve always felt as if I’ve been scratching the surface. And so, I decided to roll up my yoga mat for a spell and take some Pilates classes. This is something I have never done. I’ve been to plenty of conference sessions and I’ve edited many Pilates articles. But I have never experienced it firsthand.
My goal in this endeavor is to embody the method and hopefully find a deeper understanding of why so many people are so passionate about it. I had my first private session today with Jennifer Curry Wingrove, owner of Pilates On Park in San Diego, a renowned ballerina of the California Ballet Company, and a STOTT PILATES ® certified instructor.
What was it like? It was like relearning how to move. I have great body awareness, but this is a whole new level of neuromuscular integration. The breathing techniques are different from what we do in yoga and I had to constantly remind myself to switch gears. When on the closed chain environment of the reformer my body immediately let me know where and how I’ve been cheating—especially with my right shoulder, which I injured years ago. The prepatory moves were both familiar and distinctly distant. Learning the compound movements, matching my breath and staying centered throughout was a mental workout. I quickly learned this is not something you do mindlessly. If you are doing Pilates mindlessly, you’re not doing Pilates.
Curry did an excellent job of seamlessly moving me through my first session and pulled me back when I needed to regroup. Afterwards I felt intensely invigorated and my right shoulder, which has a hard time staying back and down, had somehow shifted in its socket. I felt more stable, upright and confident. My mood had lifted. I guess I had the Pilates glow I keep reading and writing about but never had firsthand knowledge of.
This is what I hope to share with you, the Pilates professional. I want to not only deepen my understanding of what you do so I can deliver the best content possible, I want to remind you what it’s like to approach Pilates from a beginner’s mind. While the repertoire may be simple and flowing for you now, can you remember what it was like to bottom out the carriage or not know which strap to pull? Try on a beginner’s mind again and reach new clients like me in myriad new ways through your cuing, knowledge and presence.