Mon 16th January 2023

Feel the feels: The ‘Intuitive Movement’ movement

My Big Word for 2023 is intuitive. It’s a bit of a mouthful of vowels and t’s, but I think it’s got a bit of mystery and potential about it… a bit of a scary vague even challenging word, suggesting something ‘in’ when quite frankly I mostly prefer looking out. But last year I began exploring the concept of ‘Intuitive Eating’ which I’d heard about on several podcasts and following that, I was excited by the whole idea of being equally intuitive about movement. And now I’m hearing the word everywhere.

Next I googled it and unsurprisingly found a myriad of articles, which was both encouraging and annoying as I thought maybe I’d start a new movement movement! And then I also realised that our Vita way of delivering your Pilates class has always been about encouraging our clients to move with intuition: how often do we say ‘feel the feels’?

So, it’s not a new ground-breaking theory, let’s face it they seldom are. It’s more an approach, a mindset, in fact very anti-shiny-new-trend. Basically, we intuitively know if we are sleepy, thirsty or need to go to the loo or are too hot or too cold and we wouldn’t think twice about putting on another pair of socks or having a drink of water for example, but through modern culture, we have often lost our intuition about what, when and how to eat and exercise/move. Many of us simply need structure and planning in our busy lives meaning being all freestyle and intuitive can be seen, weirdly, as a bit of a luxury.

We can often have complicated relationships with food and movement for a whole variety of reasons (cue flashback to school PE lessons for me). And these relationships aren’t helped this time of year when we are bombarded with ‘shiny new things’ because as humans we love novelty, and affirmation that we are doing the ‘right thing’ . It’s what keep us on our toes and curious and stimulated, and the diet/exercise/wellness industry revolving. Surely, if that person there is doing that at that time for that long then so must l? Right…?

No, my precious Pilates people. If you come to Pilates and keep coming back to Pilates, which we are eternally grateful so many of you do for so many reasons, it must be because your mind/body intuitively tells you that it likes it. Simples. The theory of intuitive movement in a nutshell is you listen to what your body needs, for example a 10 minute walk or a big stretch, or a rest, and, well, just do it. But honestly, lovely and liberating as the concept is, it’s not really practical for us to treat movement as we would thirst as we can’t simply drop everything else we are doing and dash out for a run mid meeting, or drop to 4-point kneeling to do ten Waves in Sainsburys- though please do try it out and see the reaction and maybe it will become a little more acceptable to have a movement break rather than cigarette/coffee/cake break…

So, back from that image and back to the ‘theory’: if trying to be more intuitive is a way forward for liberation and independence from noisy cultural expectation, how can your weekly Pilates practice be intuitive if you turn up at the same time each week to do the same ‘brand’ of movement? Because within our Vita Classes, Liz and I always aim to get you to listen intuitively to what your body and mind need, and take you through a varied, challenging, hopefully fun and as client-centred class as possible. We aim to encourage you to check in and encourage intuition, take any challenges if you want to at that moment, on that day: go hard and strong or flow slow and, well, still strong. Whether you’ve been out walking the dog, driving all over town or sitting at a desk all day, we know you all come needing different things from your class. And we always Go Big on the Pilates Principle of Mindfulness and hopefully give you space to tap in, feel the feels and re-acquaint yourself with your own personal intuitive movement.

And we even offer you the flexibility to use ClassSwap if you aren’t feeling the feels for Pilates that day…though often you do feel better for coming, no?