A-ha, yes, there is one. Stay with me and all will be revealed.
1. forward or onward movement towards a destination
2. development towards an improved or more advanced condition
So, it’s exams results time in the UK and although in Vita’s Vaughton and Vince households we get to look forward to it all next year, we know many of our clients have children who have been awarded a string of numbers/grades that ultimately measures the progress they have made over their entire school career.
As former secondary school teachers, Liz and I are no strangers to the myriad of ways progression can be measured and recorded. I can confidently say neither of us miss an extensive/oppressive assessment criteria one bit and occasionally I will have an anxiety dream where someone with no sense of humour and a clipboard is standing in the corner at Bearfield ‘judging progress’.
Now, if we were to not let our clients leave the room without each one emphatically stating ‘Yes, I made progress today’, with an example please to back up your point, I’m just not convinced anyone really would want to return. I mean, it’s nice to feel you’ve perhaps got your money’s worth and feeling you’ve got better is a lovely feeling, but really? Few people want to be put on the spot like that. Certainly, some obvious responses could be being able to do a more challenging modification in an exercise such as Spine Curls or The Hundred – so better stamina? Or could you swing your hips with more ease into a ZigZag or rotate further in your Chalk Circle – so better flexibility? Could you get through more of the class without glancing at the clock – so better flow and concentration? These are all absolutely acceptable, lovely and quantifiable responses…but does this level of scrutiny not take the fun and in-the-moment-ness out of your practice if you are constantly searching, measuring, judging yourself. Or feeling judged?
And so here I bring in the suave singing Swede Morten Harket, lead singer of 80’s pop band A-ha. We need A-ha moments. I think that’s when we make the best-most-stickable-progress. When we are relaxed and safe and confident and so focused and connected to the movement we are doing that in the moment realise: a-ha, I can go further than last week. Or, a-ha, I now understand today what she means about breathing into my armpits as I can feel it now. Or, a-ha, if I do actually relax and consider my alignment, I can stand on one leg for longer. One class you might not have an A-ha moment at all, and another day perhaps a dozen. And your a-ha moment will be personal to you and your practise. No one with a clip board is seeing how low you get those legs in a Single leg stretch. You are not being judged against the person next to you. You made ‘development towards an improved or more advanced condition’ simply by turning up and investing your hour in your Pilates practise. So let’s not go Hunting High and Low for reasons to complicate our Pilates practise and just enjoy the Living Daylights out of every session. Sorry, can’t help it. Big A-ha fan in all respects…