Each term of group classes I like to pick a theme or a goal I would like to achieve over the course of 5 weeks. This can be as simple and as straightforward as a term of Magic Circle, (where we play around with Magic Circles for 5 weeks), or as esoteric or abstract as this term’s focus, Flowing Movement.
The idea behind Flowing Movement is to explore and think about the links between the exercises and how the choice of exercise order can impact on how a class flows. For the Mat-work classes we’ve been playing around in making each exercise act as a set up for the next one. The Hundred to Roll-up, to Spine Stretch to Rolling-Like-a-Ball, to Single Leg Stretch and so on until we finish standing up, ready to leave. For the Circuit and Reformer classes, where we use the larger pieces of equipment, when we can, we’ve been trying to have as few spring/equipment changes as possible, getting as many of the exercises to flow into each other as we can.
The connection and thought of how to translate into a new movement can be challenging, especially if you are new to the idea of moving your body for so long (a typical class runs between 45-50mins). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Some days your body and mind work in harmony. Sometimes they’re like siblings in the back seat of the car squabbling with each other and constantly asking ‘Are we there yet?!’.
With all the constant moving it can be a bit crazy. Moving from one position to another in a fluid motion without having a chance to fully process the last exercise, one can get lost. Focus. Concentration. Discipline. Mindfulness. These are all terms used to explain what you need to do. And this is an idea that I was trained in too. But I’ve come to the point of my teaching life that I realise that perhaps using these terms is potentially toxic. The implication is that because you fluffed a Rollup you are lacking Focus. You have failed and you should be ashamed at your lack of discipline. By extension have you then failed Pilates? Should you then be hounded out of the studio because of this massive character flaw? No, I don’t believe so.
Where does this weird form of bullying come from? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s a hangover from Teacher training courses run by ‘gurus’ or trickled down from other communities notorious for bullying or toxic behaviour. I’ve seen it both first hand and from others’ experiences. It’s weird because for the most part these are adults who primarily want to care for others. This behaviour and language is simply not needed.
The reality is that not everyone can possibly move ‘perfectly’ every time they spend some time with The Pilates Method and that is ok. We are not machines. Mind and body are connected but it is more like a tangled web complete with past experience, memories of movement, pain, stress, sleep and hormones that sometimes cannot be overcome no matter how much you Concentrate, no matter how much Focus you put in. The key, as with every single new skill you have ever learned, is practice. Practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more. There is no set time to ‘get it’. There is no particular pose to achieve – everyone’s Hundred looks slightly different; everyone’s Teaser looks slightly different. That’s totally ok. By practicing you are exposing both your mind and body to new experiences, allowing it to get used to adapting to new things. If you’re not quite there yet, there is always another exercise to try that helps you improve your skills.
Practice. Make moves. Keep it simple.
Above all just move.