Once upon a time there was this woman in her 60s named Barbara. She called my studio and asked to book a single Reformer session with me. I was thrilled when I found out that a woman in her 60s, who had done Pilates Reformer work for more than 10 years, would be entering my room. When I first met Barbara, I was truly impressed by her petite build and strong frame. Her body was impeccable for such an age. I knew in my heart that this woman had been doing Pilates a long time, as she said over the phone. A serious student was about to board my Reformer.
We started the session with footwork, Stomach Series, feet in straps and so forth. Her form was spot on as well as her breathing and centering. I was, as all teachers would have been, thrilled to be instructing such a dedicated student of Pilates’ true mission and talents. We entered 30 minutes into the session and I could not help but stop her during a move and ask “Barbara, where is your passion and feeling of the overall exercise?” She replied, “What do you mean?” Her form was impeccable but I could tell that she didn’t have a drop of feeling for the beauty of the pose. I knew my mission was to help her increase her feeling of the exercises.
Barbara began to tell me that she has been taking Pilates session for more than 10 years and had never been asked about the passion behind the poses. To master the form is an art and should always be a goal. To master the principles of Contrology, as Joe Pilates wanted us to, is key. But I told her, as I tell all my students, there is a deeper path to each exercise. Barbara and I then began to set the stage for creating a sense of deeper centering as well as opening up the senses of the body.
The session was approaching the final stages of stretching and she began to reflect. Barbara had been through some tough medical issues years ago and chose Pilates to get her through her rehabilitation for the physical benefits. She said, “I must say Michelle, I never thought of Pilates as such an emotional and or somewhat spiritual stimulation until now. I’ve spent so much time perfecting the pose that I forgot to feel it.” I replied, “Barbara, the perfection of Pilates is a true gift and by all means we want each student to physically do each exercise as safely and purposefully as it possible but at the same time, you should never fall short of the physiological callings Pilates can equip you with.”
Barbara has been coming to my studio for a while, and she now not only practices with proper form, but she attaches herself to the belief that Pilates can be more than just a textbook exercise. As a teacher, it is my job to correct and create a safe routine to fit the students’ needs and goals. But I must also motivate and guide them to a higher emotional training of true confidence.
Pilates is more. More than words can describe and should be filled with physiological passion. Stay passionate about Pilates and make your mission true to the art. We all have so much to give in many colors, and we must learn to appreciate our fellow Pilates teachers—we all carry the same glue that holds our love for the Contrology together.