From Procrastinator to Practitioner: 3 Things That Helped Me Stay Consistent with My Pilates Practice
by Julia Rigal
For years, I was one one of these people who liked to say: "I'm really into Pilates", followed by an unspoken "but ...". The "buts" were many: my practice was on-and-off at best, I often didn't find the time for it (having a full-time job and all), and I didn't feel I would ever be any good at it. Today, however - in the course of about a year - I've found consistency, progress, and even the courage to enroll in BASI's Comprehensive Teacher Training Course.
So - what changed? (Hint: It's not the full-time job!)
I found the right studio.
Before I got into Pilates (for real), sticking with an exercise program had always been challenging for me. I simply wasn't aware that there might be a kind of exercise out there that I could truly enjoy. I had mostly hated gym class in school, having repeatedly suffered the humiliation of being the slow runner, the bad-thrower-slash-easy-target, the girl who's too scared of heights to be any good at gymnastics ... the list goes on! I had rarely experienced joy in exercising, or that my body was capable of achieving anything of note at all.
So, finding Pilates in the first place was a revelation for me. Over the years, I practiced at quite a few different studios and learned from different teachers - and it was mostly great. It wasn't until a few other things fell into place, though, that I really began to find depth in and a love for my practice. For me, that was: a calm, friendly space; an open, international community of practitioners; flowy, fun classes with encouraging instructors. Today, making it to the studio at least once a week is a no-brainer for me.
I learned to listen to my body.
Practicing at a studio you love is awesome. However, like most people, it's not something I can manage (or afford) to do every day, or even most days. That's why I'm also deeply committed to my home practice. Exercising at home, as we all know, is very different from being in class. It's just too easy to procrastinate, skip your practice entirely, or get bored or frustrated if your chosen routine isn't a good fit. Yup, I've been there!
But these experiences have led me to consider some very important aspects of my practice: how, how often, when can I show up in the best possible way? And what do I think I have to vs. need to do today? Letting this knowledge guide me is so much better than forcing my body and mind into something they're too tired or stressed to perform.
For example: I now know that tough abs routines with lots of spinal flexion are better suited for days when I haven't spent eight or more hours sitting in office chairs and train seats. For weekdays, I now keep a list of balanced, unrushed routines with plenty of shoulder and hip mobilization as well as back extension. If I ever feel too tired, I remind myself that even a little goes a long way. Then, I'll let Pilates help me restore my energy by selecting a slow, meditative flow.
I kept showing up.
Some time ago, I had my first private lesson on the Cadillac with my favorite instructor. Throw in a bit of Wunda Chair, and my muscles were literally shaking afterwards. I was drenched in sweat and a bit overwhelmed. But just three weeks later, we met again: the Cadillac, my teacher and I. My anxiety at first encountering a new apparatus had passed, my mind and body were in sync and when the lesson was over, I was proud of the strength and control that were able to shine through that day.
Progress isn't always immediately apparent, and I'm still learning to trust that it's there. Transforming my practice from mere exercise to a healthy habit and a mind-body life tool has been the key in helping me find it, and to open my eyes to new possibilities.