Kindness. Radical Kindness.

The latest trend in the Pilates industry has nothing to do with equipment or props or even spinal articulation. Actually, it’s not what you’re thinking at all. Anula Maiberg fills us in.

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“There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” Buffalo Springfield

Those wise words were written for a generation that’s not my own. They’re about war and fear and revolution. I think. I wasn’t there. But I’m here now, and some things are starting to become clearer.

As I was trying to formulate this post, I knew I wanted to offset some of my previous posts about Instagram shaming, body shaming, shaming shaming, and switch gears toward what is working—and working extremely well—in our industry at the moment.

“And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…

“So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.” —Hunter S. Thompson, the forethinking American author and journalist who founded gonzo journalism

Revolution only happens in desperate times—when people have nothing to lose. It’s a reaction to something oppressive that is no longer serving the greater good.

Kindness in our industry can be viewed as an act of defiance. Courage. Revolution.

In a primarily female-driven industry within the context of our current social climate, women uplifting women doesn’t feel like a choice, but rather a necessity. The days of cat-fighting Dynasty dramatics are entertaining, but also cut too deep. The idea of not showing kindness to a peer sounds ludicrous. “Who’s your elder?” is no longer the point. The point is: Who do you go out of your way to support? And support them loudly.

Pilates teacher Jenna Zaffino presenting at the PMA Meeting this past November

The driving force behind this post was a presentation by Jenna Zaffino at the recent Pilates Method Alliance conference in Palm Springs. Her scheduled window of time went up against some huge educational forces in the field, so the room was almost fully composed of those who couldn’t fathom missing a chance to see Jenna shine. And shine she did. “When Air Becomes Breath” was a provocation, a permission-giving, imploring presentation on the importance, above many other things, to teach our students, and practice ourselves, the intricate art of breathing. It wasn’t precious. It wasn’t hipster twee. It was, above all else, how to learn to breath correctly, damn it! How to teach breathing techniques unapologetically. Fearlessly. Surrounded by people who were deeply listening, deeply present and deeply kind, we created the human breathing mechanism out of humans, and we danced with abandon, and for a moment, in a conference full of stimulation, politics and drama, we were just like-minded people in a room loving our fearless presenter for allowing us to just exist. Being vulnerable. Devoid of posturing. Only encouragement was permitted energetically in that space. That kind of space can only be created by Jenna, a magical thinker. A driving force in a new wave of magical thinkers who honor the legacy that came before while realizing that necessity is the mother of invention.

I stood shoulder to shoulder with my real-life friends, Lesley Logan, Carrie Pagés and James Crader, literally holding each other up because we were overcome with happiness. With celebration of a game-changing moment. Through a veil of tears, I may have remarked that it was like seeing a baby bird fly out of the nest, but that’s incorrect. Jenna has been flying for years. To revise my sentiment: It was like watching a rock show, where at the end, the guitarist, knowing that that exact moment could never be repeated in that exact same way, feels so elated and spent that he’s compelled to smash the guitar against the speakers.

Carrie Pagès, Jenna Zaffino, Lesley Logan and Anula Maiberg

This heightened sense of encouragement is an ongoing theme I’m noticing taking over the past few years. I think everyone, at some point, has been sat down by someone they admire, and were told flatly and directly that they aren’t good enough. Period. The end. That soul-crushing moment can feel cruel. Absolutely a learning moment, but cruel. What we’re finding is that there’s a happy medium between that old-fashioned “the truth hurts” and the notion of the millenial snowflake syndrome, where everyone is equally special and equally talented. The thing is, everyone is equally special and talented, just at vastly different things. The key is noticing what people are contributing—and not what they are detracting.

All of this is motivational speaker jargon that translates to: Generation kindness is here, and if you’re not yet shaken up, it’s time you were. Because the forecast is: get on board or be ignored.

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”  —Hunter S. Thompson


Anula Maiberg is a graduate of the Kathy Grant Heritage Training Masters Program led by Cara Reeser. Anula is passionate about upholding the traditions and principles of Pilates while being able to update and personalizing them for the needs of her students. She also feels strongly about volunteering her time to the LGBTQ community, and believes Pilates is a wonderful movement modality and a tool for healing in a supportive environment.

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