All Bodies Welcome Here!
Every time I encounter a new student, I begin by asking about their body. Do they have aches, pains, a past injury, a chronic condition, pregnancy, post-partum or so on. All of these things matter for me to be able to teach the best possible session for them. Pilates is individual. It should be personalized for the body at hand.
What i have learned through a a decade of teaching Pilates is most students default to saying, “No - nothing going on here.” If that truly is the case - that’s awesome. Often it’s not ;-) I believe we tend to be embarrassed or shy about whatever our ‘issue’ may be. it’s not until we start moving and I start explaining what we are doing and why we are doing it that the confessions begin! Sometimes it’s an admission of back pain from time to time. Other times it’s an old sports injury that’s still nagging or maybe a neck issue from a car crash 10 years ago. The great news is ALL OF THESE I CAN WORK WITH! That is the beauty of Pilates … it’s for everybody.
Let’s face it - no two bodies are alike. Even two young, fit, healthy bodies will be different. Even if that difference is height or leg length or torso length or flexibility - it means you will experience a movement slightly differently than I will. That’s why Pilates is modifiable. That’s why when you ask - how far should I go the answer is often - specific to you. How far can YOU go and still engage you abdominals? How far can you go and feel in control? That’s how far!
The other day I saw an advertisement for Pilates classes for new students with the caveat - not suitable for those that require modifications due to injuries. My first thought - wow - that’s potentially eliminating a lot of people who could really benefit from Pilates! My second thought - how sad that we are keeping something so beneficial from folks who could really truly benefit from it.
It’s my job as a Pilates teacher to be ready to handle ALL the bodies that come my way. In some cases that may mean private sessions are best but in many cases very different bodies can happily do group classes together with the appropriate modifications for all. Pilates is not a competitive sport. We each can individually work to progress but there are no Pilates Games or gold medals or colored belts to be earned. Your success does not take away from mine in Pilates. If your extension is greater than mine - so be it!
I have tight hips - always have and I suspect my bone structure is such that I always will. Pilates has helped. If you see me doing pigeon stretch on the footbar it’s almost laughable … well maybe it is laughable - and that’s a-ok with me! Why? Because I am getting what I need from Pilates. Pilates makes me feel good and perform better in life and I am able to modify to keep my hips happy and safe from overstraining. I also have some abdominal separation from a couple major surgeries years ago. Pilates has been transformative and truly a miracle worker on my abdominals. I am so thankful my first studio welcomed my split core and helped me heal and repair my separation. If i had been told Pilates was only for healthy bodies - I may never have looked elsewhere and missed out on what I really needed.
I say embrace what makes you you - scars and all. No body is perfect and no two bodies are the same. To get the most out of your Pilates session be honest about what you need and share with your instructor. You may not realize it but that’s the kind of thing that makes my day - trying to solve a body riddle and get you the results and recovery you desire! All Bodies Welcome Here!