When I was a child, I was a tomboy. I ran with the wild boys, building tree forts, riding bikes, and swinging from rope swings. I loved to be outside and run and play, but as I’m sure many of you experienced, that changed. As I got older and my body began to change I became more and more disconnected from myself and my own body. I retreated into books, make-up, and parties. I purposefully left my relationship with my body behind. It was too hard, my body had betrayed me by changing. In college I made a conscious effort to change this relationship and have learned some valuable lessons along the way.
I knew that I wanted to change the relationship with my body, but I didn’t know how. I started with large junior college fitness classes where I only ended up feeling more lost and confused. After several years of poking around fitness classes and watching online videos I finally found Pilates. It was a bit of a rocky road at first, but I found the right instructor pretty quickly and have been loving Pilates ever since. It helped me to find that love for my body that I had lost so long ago and to realize the strength I had when my brain (something I felt was quite strong after years of school) and body worked together. Not only did Pilates bring me closer to my body, it healed my chronic pain from waiting tables, toned my core, and allowed me to take my routine with me anywhere.
I wanted to share this feeling with the world, so I became a Pilates teacher and started to chase my dreams! One of the best tools a teacher has is to teach from their own experiences, therefore I want to share the most valuable lessons I’ve learned along my fitness journey that helped me change the way I feel about my body.
It’s true movement heals both emotionally and physically. So the very first step to changing your relationship with your body is to start moving it. Take a walk, go dancing, play with your kids, just get off the couch and out of your thoughts. Begin to move your body and the negative emotions that you feel towards it will begin to heal. You will begin to heal physically if you begin to move your body in a mindful intentional way (I recommend Pilates). Physical healing takes time, so remember to be kind to yourself and extend understanding and grace, just as you would for your best friend.
Take the time to find the right instructor/program for you.
Like I mentioned I tried many forms of exercise before finding Pilates, lots, including, yoga, circuit training, park bootcamps, and step aerobics. I felt like nothing quite fit, but I didn’t give up. I kept trying new things and finally hit Pilates, but even then I had to find the right instructor before I really felt change. My first two Pilates classes were overcrowded and I felt invisible. So I tried private lessons, but my first instructor left me feeling lost with nowhere to go. It wasn’t until I found the right instructor, who made sure I was comfortable both physically and mentally, gave me an at home routine, and provided a path forward with semi-private lessons. She made me feel so comfortable because she was warm, I related to her, and I didn’t find her intimidating. It was a long path, but when I finally found the right instructor my whole world changed.
You don’t need to focus on your brain over your body, both are valuable.
I have always been very studious. I enjoy school. In high school I thought that in order to be studious I couldn’t be athletic because “only dumb jocks are athletes” (so, so, so, far from the truth). I now know that they help each other and neither can meet optimal strength without the other. This is one of the reasons I love Pilates so much, it gives me the opportunity to use my brain and body together as one for optimal performance. Let me explain, Pilates is challenging on the body for obvious reasons, but it is also challenging on the mind because the mind is asking the body to move in very specific ways. The mind is trying to find control over the body, breaking down old habits, and asking it to build healthier and more functional ones. I often tell students when they ask me why a seemingly simple exercise is so hard that they are literally building new pathways in their brains and relating to their bodies in different ways, which is why it is so challenging and still so rewarding.
I encourage you to stick with your fitness journey, even if it my feel twisty, bumpy, or dark. I promise that it will be rewarding more than you can imagine and that all of these bumps that feel like mistakes in the moment will turn into lessons. You’ve already done the hardest part, shown an interest and taken your first steps.
Not happy in your routine? Mix it up! You are not married to the first exercise program you try. Contrary to popular belief exercise shouldn’t be hard, painful, or something that you hate doing. That just means you haven’t found the right program for you. So keep playing!
Want to try Pilates? Here are two ways that I would love to help:
Join the FREE Create Move Pilates Virtual Studio for support and guidance.
Check out Pilates Essentials, the 15 lessons course that will teach you the building blocks of the Pilates exercises and help you ditch the feeling that you just aren’t doing it right.