Reformed Perfectionist

When I was in grade school through high school, I was a perfectionist. I labored intensely on my projects, I did the extra credit assignments, and volunteered to help out the teacher. Yeap – that person! Grades were important to me and getting the best grade – even more important to me. I also ran track and cross country. Breaking and setting school records was the goal there. And I achieved it.

I took this perfectionist approach to my Pilates study. I dove in thinking I would learn the most and really master every movement. HA! If you have been practicing Pilates for a while you may be laughing with me because Pilates is just not like that. I do believe it is important and motivating to have goals. I believe goals get us out of bed, keep us trying longer, and give us reason to celebrate when we succeed. BUT our goal in Pilates really can’t be perfection. That is something that just doesn’t exist in my opinion.

I tell my students often that there is no finish line in Pilates, no specific point we are trying to get to, and today we may have a different range than tomorrow. If there is no finish line then what the heck are we working towards? (that’s the old me questioning the point of something I can’t win and conquer!) Our Pilates goals are about strength, connection, and progress. Our Pilates goals like our Pilates movements are fluid.

I am a reformed Perfectionist when it comes to Pilates and I hope life! (pun intended) Striving for perfection in an imperfect world is a one way ticket to stress, discontent, and often failure. BUT this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best or have goals. We need to look at what those goals are and make the right goals.

I will probably never be able to do the control balance as well as I’d like … but I will be able to do it better than I currently am. I may always struggle with the roll up due to some DR and previous surgeries. I am reminded of a quote from one of my mentors Cara Reeser, “So you can’t do a perfect roll up, is that really holding you back in life?”  She’s right – it’s not. My goal is better. My goal is feeling more connection. My goal is finding more strength. In the end maybe my roll up will look better … or maybe it won’t but I’ll be stronger and working deeper none the less. I may even decide to focus on other Pilates movements that work better for my body. My goal ultimately is a body that does life and movement well and without pain.

So… have I just given you permission to ignore the details and skip the movement you don’t like??  Well … not really. Working on the details helps us achieve control and function in life. Skipping the hard stuff prevents us from growing and evolving. However, if we determine a movement is not good for you … C Curve I’m looking at you! … then we may eliminate it.

I encourage you to set goals for your Pilates practice but make sure ‘perfect’ is not one of them. Strive for a regular practice, strive to feel stronger, work to gain control, aspire to better sleep and less stress, or work to eliminate pain. These are the goals I wish for you!

2 thoughts on “Reformed Perfectionist

    1. It can be if you have neck issues, spinal fusions, osteoporosis, etc. For some it is not recommended – I see more and more folks who would do better modifying to leave c-curve out. Add to this – most of us spend a good deal of time in flexibility hunched over a computer or phone … so extra flexion with c-curve may not be the best for rounded posture.

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