The other day I was watching an amazing “Bridging Progressions” Pilates video by BlueBird Pilates. It was really stunning and gave me the immediate urge to practice some Pilates Bridges that were one of my favorite Pilates exercises (you can probably tell my love for bridges from the name of this website, LOL.)
Feel free to get amazed by the grace of movement in this video.
When I watched the first part of the video I was ready to unroll my mat and jump on the Reformer. But as I got to the last 25% of the video I started feeling a little uncomfortable. You see, I am a type-A personality and when I do something I want to go all the way. And yet, after practicing Pilates for 8 years I know that some of those last advanced Pilates Bridge variations are never going to be accessible to me.
It is difficult sometimes to find contentment (or a ‘happy’ place) when you are doing Pilates, teaching it or running a Pilates business. There always seems to be someone who does it better than you, can perform more advanced variations, teach with more confidence, get more profit from the business etc.
The ‘Unhappy’ Pilates groups
Take a look at the following groups and see if you ever felt that way or had a student with those tendencies.
- The extremists. A lot of students who come to Pilates expect the same teeth-grinding, sweat-pouring, hardcore workout as they would get at a local bootcamp or crossfit facility. They want to use heavier springs, move faster, do more reps, feel the “pain” of the workout because they believe it is the only way to get results.
- The bosses. Another group of students often thinks that they know better when they are ready to progress to the advanced level than their instructor does. They want to take the reigns of teaching into their hands and muscle their way through the workout, jerk themselves into inversions and think that they have achieved the highest level of Pilates.
- Birdies on the fence. Some teachers struggle with finding their Pilates/profit balance. Should they give in to the gym-mentality and start offering bootcamp Pilates to generate extra income?
- The NON-business women(men). Are they extinguishing their teaching fire by running the business end of a Pilates studio?
- The doubters. Do they know ALL there is to know about Pilates to teach any client?
- The Gold-Star students. Are they qualified enough to teach Pilates if they don’t have a perfect Pilates body or can perform the most advanced Pilates exercises? (I must admit that I was wrestling with this thought for a while, given my over-achiever personality.)
All of these students and teachers have one thing in common – they never feel like they are doing ENOUGH.
Overachievers rule, underachievers …
Our world today is programmed for over-achievers. There are thousands of gadgets and apps that are supposed to make us more productive, morE competitive, moRE efficient, mORE organized, MORE successful than we already are.
Everything that is supposed to make us a better version of ourselves in the least amount of time is in high demand right now. I guess it can explain the popularity of extreme fitness workouts like P90X, CrossFit, Insanity etc. It also explains the struggles that Pilates teachers are going through trying to market their services to these overachievers or stay competitive in a highly saturated market.
But there is a solution …
Let me plant just one thought in your mind
Remember why you are doing what you are doing
Let it sink in for a couple of seconds. This thought has completely eliminated all of my anxieties.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why did you start taking Pilates?
- Why did you start teaching Pilates
- What goals do you have in life?
- What other priorities are there in your life?
I personally do Pilates because it conditions my body for injury-free life so that I can play with my kids, go hiking (or do whatever else) with my husband and enjoy my lifestyle. Doing an advanced Bridge variation is not something that would help me achieve any of those goals so I really don’t care whether I can or can not progress to that level of Pilates mastery. As you can see from the photo above I am quite happy doing my “not-so-perfect” bridge while hiking in beautiful NC mountains with my husband for our wedding anniversary.
If I were a Cirque du Soleil performer I would probably have different priorities and I would want to master those advanced variations.
I teach Pilates because I want my students to be more in tune with their bodies so that they can make better choices of what is and is not good for them. I am just an educator who gives them a manual on how to use their bodies. It is their choice of what they want to do with it.
Practical Steps for Students and Teachers Alike
- As a student ask yourself why you came to Pilates and discuss your goals with your teacher.
Contrology is not a system of haphazard exercises designed to produce only bulging muscles. … . Nor does Contrology err either by over-developed a few muscles at the expense of all others with resulting loss of grace and suppleness, or a a sacrifice of the heart or lungs. ~Joseph Pilates
- As a teacher point your students’ attention to WHY they are doing Pilates and what they are trying to achieve with every move. Educate them about movement rather than just trying to keep up with their demands.
- As a Pilates business owner decide what group of clients (your target audience) you would like to teach and create the best environment for them. The truth of the matter is that not everybody will like your teaching or Pilates in general, and that’s okay. Some people like vanilla ice-cream and others like only chocolate. So pick your flavor and create the most scrumptious Pilates concoction that anyone has ever tried. And once you have mastered the first flavor you can always branch out to something more daring (pumpkin ice-cream, maybe? It was one of the most delicious and surprising deserts I have ever tried on my anniversary trip.)
Remember, that it is easy to get wrapped up with everything around you and lose sight of a big picture. However, if you start chasing every carrot in front of you then soon you will find yourself running in circles. Instead, pick your goal (Pilates or not) that is far ahead of you and stay on the trail that leads toward it. Instead of chasing carrots you’ll actually have time to stop and enjoy the ice-cream.
What is your answer to “Why are you doing/teaching Pilates?”
Where is your happy Pilates place?