I am happy to report I had a wonderful time at the PMA Conference (Pilates Method Alliance) last week in San Diego. I met some inspiring, impressive Pilates folks, learned so much and re-energized my enthusiasm for what I do. These conferences are like a recharging of my personal Pilates battery. I come home so full of energy and excitement to share what I have learned with all of you! I will be writing about my experiences over the next few weeks, so you can learn and grow as well.
Today I want to start with something I picked up in the very last session I attended. It was a large group mat class to close out the conference. And when I say large … I mean 200-plus people in one room on mats doing a Pilates class together!! The instructor, Cara Reeser, has been doing Pilates for many years, owns a studio in Colorado, was a dancer, won the Pilates Anytime Next Instructor Competition last year, and so much more. To put it mildly, she is well credentialed! It was exciting for me to just be a student and absorb what she was teaching.
During the class, she announced, “We are going to do roll-downs now.” And then she said, “Don’t do that! I can see it on some of your faces. You’ve started that inter-dialogue. You’re saying I’m not any good at these or I can’t do these. Stop that!” She went on to explain, we don’t know what we will be capable of today. Maybe today we can do more than yesterday? Maybe today is the day we CAN do roll downs or maybe it’s the day we go 1 centimeter farther with control. Her message was simple – Pilates is about growth, improvement and body love – not hate. There is no place for self-deprecating thoughts in Pilates.
I loved that message. I’ve been guilty of it and I’ve seen students do the same thing. Before we even begin we decide it is not going to go well or we aren’t going to succeed. And how likely are we to succeed with that mindset? Not very likely! What if we approached our practice with the mindset of ‘Let’s see what I can do today’ instead. Wouldn’t that be a more enjoyable way to participate and lead to more success?
Cara also shared that her teacher, Kathy Grant, a Pilates legend, never chastised students for not being able to do something. Instead, she would say, “Well lets finds something else you can do!” During my own training, before I could master the roll down, I found other exercises that helped me work my weaker sections. I practiced and practiced and practiced. Now, I can do a roll down! If I hadn’t been open to the possibilities, I may just have given up!
I think this message carries over beyond Pilates. So many areas of our lives we are asked to try new things or branch out of our comfort zones. We can either choose to doubt our abilities or embrace the possibilities. We can rigidly just focus on what we can’t do or we can look for alternatives that might end up getting us where we wanted to go. This is a message that my husband and I hope to impart on our boys, too. There will be plenty of people who will tell them they can’t in life – they don’t need to hear that from themselves! Wouldn’t we all be better off if we grew up with a better inner dialogue and less self-doubt? Wouldn’t we all be happier if we celebrated that centimeter of success today?