Aren’t we supposed to follow our dreams, do what we love, and leave what we don’t? In most cases – yes! But when it comes to Pilates, some times I believe what we really need is what we struggle to do. Let’s face it – if we only do what we are already good at – we will not improve in other areas or grow stronger across the full body.
For me, initially with Pilates extension was one of my least favorite things to do. I wasn’t particularly good at it and I felt awkward swimming or doing swan exercises. Left to my own, it would easy to avoid these exercises! Sure, I’d never improve but who cares if I never do them? Well, I am pretty sure I would eventually care because lacking the ability to do extension and focusing only on flexion is a recipe for an injury! If I had allowed myself to skip the extension, I would have continued to become stronger at flexion and created more and more imbalance in my body … exactly what I am trying NOT to do in Pilates! So… begrudgingly I worked on extension. What I realized is after a little while, I did get stronger, my range of motion grew and my back felt better than ever!! I actually really enjoy extension exercises now! Lesson learned – if you struggle and don’t like it – you just may need it!
Next on my list of things I didn’t particularly enjoy … running hills. Well, I live in Tennessee so unless I wanted to spend my time on a treadmill (no thanks!) I would have to overcome this one quickly! What I have found is the more I add hills into my runs, the easier they get, the stronger I feel, and with that comes a sense of accomplishment. This also makes my ‘flat’ runs seem so much easier. I love going to a race that is relatively ‘flat’ compared to my typical neighborhood run because mentally I know I am more than prepared to handle it!
The next time you find yourself in Pilates class and the student next to you asks for a movement you hate or your instructor suggests a movement you struggle with … remind yourself that all things we work on we improve at and this may be the very movement that will unlock even greater potential in your body over time! And if that isn’t motivation for you .. then you can go back to what I always tell new students, “We never do more than 10 of anything so you if you find something particularly grueling know there can’t be more than 10!”