“As class went on, I was often a beat behind the other dancers who knew Pilates’s exercises. Slowly I began to realize that here, it was allowed to make mistakes. Corrections might be quick and clear, but there was no malice or shame in them. The concentration was on learning. And I suddenly felt free to learn, to think my body through the exercise itself.”
From the book No Daughter of Mine is Going to be a Dancer, by Sharry Traver Underwood. She is speaking of her experiences taking classes at Jacob’s Pillow with Joseph Pilates.
Pilates, like most things we do, is a practice.
We aren’t expected to do things perfectly. Ever.
Pilates is a practice used to explore your body and movement. It is a place to try new things. It is a place to practice skills and improve them. It is a place to build strength. It is a place to find the power your mind and body possess, a place to surprise yourself. It is a place to be humbled – sometimes in big ways. It is a place to overcome. It is a place to find a better version of yourself.
It is not a place to be shy or fearful. It is not a place to beat yourself up. It is not a place to compete with others. It is not a place to judge.
Your teachers have spent years studying and practicing. We continue to study and practice to improve. We understand that Pilates is hard. So hard. Especially in the beginning.
We, too, have fallen off the reformer. We, too, have collapsed in the middle of the hundred. We, too, have been corrected more times than we can count.
We are here to help you make progress toward your goals. We are here to help you move better and feel better. We are here for you.
There are times when we will ask you to do things you think impossible. And you may or may not succeed in the way you want, but trying is success in our eyes.
There are times when we will ask you to do the simplest thing or make the smallest movement that (beyond all reason) you find unattainable in that moment. That you tried and worked to do it correctly is success in our eyes.
There are times when you will have not tried an exercise for a while, but we have been secretly working on the skills and strength you need to do it. And, one day, we’ll ask you to do it, and you might surprise yourself that you can do it now, or at how much easier it feels than it used to.
The goal of a practice is to improve.
We are here to help you learn, to push you to try things that might be uncomfortable and difficult, to cue you into better movement, to make you work hard for your health, to pick you up when you’re down, to celebrate your victories with you, to help you see that you can do it.
We delight in the moments when we see you achieve something you thought you couldn’t or that you struggled through before. We delight in the “aha!” moments when things “click” and you understand something new about your body.
Mostly, we want you to understand that movement is a practice and a journey. We are here, with you on that journey to help.
You’re allowed to make mistakes. You’re supposed to make mistakes. You’re encouraged to try things that you may not do well because if you keep practicing, one day you will.
You have to try things to be able to do them.
And you have to practice them to be able to do them well.
Find freedom in practice.