One of my Pilates mentors wisely told me some years ago, never give a student an exercise you aren't sure if they are ready to do. She went on to explain that with each movement, we can break it down into smaller movements or building blocks. If we begin with the building blocks mastering these, then when we approach a bigger movement we know we are ready for success! I've tried to adopt this philosophy with my teaching.
One of the reasons for this is because it can be very discouraging to try a movement and fail. And the next time we try it our first thought is, "I probably still can't do this." Pilates should be encouraging and supportive with the goal of leaving feeling stronger and more confident. Of course, there will be exercises that challenge us and we can improve at. Not being perfect is ok in my book or my class! We work on that. But outright failing is something I aim to avoid.
As an instructor, I look to challenge my students with movements I believe they are ready for. Often times, they may not realize they are ready! It is not uncommon to hear, 'I can't' before a student does and can! It's my job to get your ready and push you to take a chance, even if you aren't sure. And boy does it feel good to do what you didn't think you could!
This weekend I was in Cincinnati and had the opportunity to take Pilates classes at my friend Rachel's studio, Prism Pilates. I always know I will be challenged and I love taking a moment to be the student. As my teacher began explaining an exercise, I felt a twinge of fear and heard myself saying "I don't think I'm going to be able to do that". She knew better... and sure enough, I did it. I was reminded my job as the student is to trust my instructor to lead me through what I am ready for! And how great it felt to have success!
So the next time you find yourself faced with self-doubt and wondering if you really can, trust your instructor, trust yourself, and try! I bet you will be pleasantly surprised with how capable you really are!