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It’s totally ok to be cr*p!

  • Do you remember learning to drive a car? I bet there were bunny hops and stalling the car, all over the place!
  • Do you remember learning a language and having to practice over and over again?
  • Do you remember studying for your degree and not understanding everything in your chosen subject?
  • Do you remember the first time you baked a cake and it just flopped?

It’s totally ok to be a complete beginner and not know how to do any of it. Just as much as it’s totally normal to be experienced and still find certain things really difficult. But often we forget this important lesson! Especially when we’re doing Pilates, why is that? We expect to be just able to do all the exercises like that! We often assume it’s down to the lack of teaching by the instructor, or that we must have interpreted their teaching incorrectly and we “must be doing something wrong.”

Do you want to know the truth that most people don’t like to hear?

The truth often is that we’re just not ready for it in our bodies, in our Pilates journey.

  • If we’re relatively new to Pilates and haven’t yet developed enough strength and stability over our centre and pelvis, how do we expect to be able to hold our legs up without our back arching?
    • Is it because we are doing something wrong? NO!
    • Are we trying and having a go at the exercises that will help us do this? YES! (and jump on board with the apparatus to give us better support and resistance.)
    • Do we just need to be patient with ourselves? YES
    • Can we improve the process by taking a 1:1 for more specific focussed attention and cues? DEFINATELY
    • Can we speed up the process by coming 2-3 times a week regularly instead of once a week? OF COURSE!
  • If we have back pain and have been doing the Hundred exercise with tabletop legs for years, why do we expect not to struggle with the Double Leg Stretch?
    • The double leg stretch requires both legs at once to extend to a 45 degree angle away from our body. Have we been practicing this extra load with the same position in the Hundred in an earlier exercise? NO! (or yes but we can’t hold it)
    • Have we been doing leg springs that take the legs to the same angle but with support for the weight of the legs? NO! We just do matwork.
    • If we did use the apparatus with a teacher that understood how to connect the dots, instead of seeing Pilates as a list of exercises, would it help? 100%!
    • Does it even matter to us and what we’re trying to achieve right now with helping gain stability and control over our lower back? NOT REALLY! (There are so many more exercises we need to focus on instead.)

Pilates is a recipe and matwork is the perfect classic chocolate cake

Pilates is not a list of exercises, it is a method; a recipe if you like! For a recipe, you need good ingredients, you need to know how to mix them together correctly to get a successful outcome. Once you’ve mastered the Pilates basics, you’ve learnt how to produce the perfect classic chocolate cake and you can move on.

From this, you can start experimenting. You make choices to keep to the classic, start adding in variations or trying a new exercise and learn that recipe. It’s just like adding on ganache, sprinkles, adding in flavourings.

But if you just guess the basics, or have never been shown how to do them properly, the success of the outcome changes. You could layer some beautiful frosting over a chocolate cake that doesn’t taste good and is flopping in the middle, and it may look nice on the outside but it’s not right so when you try to progress and add in other flavourings and topping, it only gets worse.

It’s just the same in what you often see on social media. Sometimes you see an image of what you think is the ‘perfect’ looking chocolate cake. It could be in the form of someone’s ‘perfect’ body, the ‘perfect’ Pilates Teaser exercise or the ‘perfect’ house interior. But you don’t know what’s behind it, the journey they’ve been on, how much or little they have practiced, how long it’s taken them to get to this point, how it affects their life.

1st place medal

What does success means to you?

  • Would you be happy if you’re back kept arching away from the floor in your Pilates and you learnt how to control that so it didn’t happen?
  • Would you be thrilled if your daily aching back pain stopped hurting so much or stopped all together?
  • Would you be happy if because of your new freedom from pain, you were able to pick up your children/grandchildren again without fear of hurting yourself?
  • Would you be delighted that you could now go back to the running you had to stop but love so much or you can hit that golf swing stronger and further down the fairway without waking up the next day in regrettable back pain?

Now think would you still be happy if you took a photo of your Pilates exercise where your back didn’t arch away from the floor, and your legs had moved only a few inches and not all the way out like you’ve seen other people do?

Or when you look at the photo, even though you know how hard you work in the exercise and how deep it feels, and how good your back pain is feeling, you just see some belly fat sitting like rolls on your stomach?

Would you think you’re a bit cr*p?!

So why are we so bothered about being able to do it all perfectly?

Because we are human beings. We’re conditioned to think that success equals first place! It’s in our very nature to compare and contrast. Social media is the perfect tool to facilitate that comparison if we let it into our mindset.

Pilates is a practice and not a performance. I’ll say it again. Pilates is a practice and not a performance. No matter what the slogans say, your life isn’t a performance either! We don’t get just one shot at getting things right. Life is a series of constant rehearsals, we do get knocked down and we learn to get back up again. We aren’t always going to nail it, to get it right, we are different people and we are on different journeys.

But we are the star of our own show and we need to celebrate what what we learn and achieve in our Pilates practice helps us with our own every day (normal!) lives. It may not be glamorous but it’s real. Yes, sometimes the learning process may look a bit cr*p but you know what, I’m ok with that!

Our Pilates, our way, for our lives.

Written by Michelle Smith
Founder of From Meh to Me | Your Body Rocks | The Pilates Pod.

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