Over the summer I have seen a lot of bodies. All shapes and sizes. This is not I must stress some weird Pilates teacher fetish, but because I have been on holiday in a hot country where people have not been wearing very much. And I had a bit of an epiphany about body image and body confidence, buzzwords that have been literally buzzing around for a while, and I put on my bikini for the first time in a long time without really giving a stuff.
But, you are a Pilates teacher, you may be thinking, you must have superb body confidence, be sashaying around in bikini all the time…well… hmmm. When I began my training as a Pilates teacher, the fifth thing I was most excited about was obviously soon becoming a lean machine of a woman. But a few months in and it hadn’t happened…odd…my body had changed, toned up around the waist, it didn’t ache when I sat or walked for long periods, I could open even the toughest pickle jars with a new ease, but it still wasn’t The Body of A Pilates teacher I had hoped for. And I was spending a LOT of time connecting with this body, and getting a bit frustrated. All I saw was what it wouldn’t do, rather than what it could do. Unlike many Pilates teachers, I do not come from a professional dancer background. I took up Pilates because I was a secondary school Drama teacher with a bad back and Pilates literally made it better. So really, I have no idea what I was hoping would happen – that I’d don the Sweaty Bettys costume and pirouette out of the changing room into a full Teaser and double leg stretch combo??
But you see, here is the sneaky power of Pilates. Joseph Pilates said that “Change happens through movement, and movement heals.” And darn it, he was jolly right in my case. Pilates has made me change the way I view my body, ‘heal’ many hang ups and taught me to connect with my bones and joints and how they move. It has calmly pointed out over time that I’m 44 and not ever never going to have the body of my 18 year self again. But my 44 year body and mind is pretty OK actually, because I’m looking after them, and they check in with each other on a regular basis in a healthy way through Pilates. Pilates challenges me to bend and stretch in unfamiliar ways, co-ordinate and strengthen, think about my hips and shoulders, wrists and knees. Breath. Energise. And every time I do it, it chips away at reminding my mind what my body is, and not what it is not. And that is how I was able in both mind and body to run in a bikini and jump off a pontoon into a lake this summer.
Now, of course, the first thing I love most about teaching Pilates is inspiring people to benefit and enjoy Pilates, and Liz and I proper love teaching Pilates, 100%, and we can go on for hours (and usually do…) about all the gerzillion benefits. It is a privilege to work with people’s bodies in movement. But it is absolutely NOT our place to tell any of our clients to love their bodies. We cannot transform perceptions of your body image, but we can teach you fabulous Pilates and hope that, if you even need to at all, you can come around to those changes in how you view your body by yourself. For as Joe P says, “it is the mind itself that builds the body”.
#pilates #vitapilates #bodyimage #bodyconfidence