‘When I exercise, I switch off’ is a phrase I often hear as a Pilates Teacher. We switch off from our busy lives, work, diaries, and to-do lists and focus only on movement, stamina, breathing, strength, technique… oh the list is long. Too long to think of anything else other than your work-out really. Or is it? Is there another, personal, deeper layer going on in- between that we’re possibly not always present to, but that colors the way in which we move? Without meaning to sound slightly bonkers, I know I certainly can not stop the voices in my head, not even when I exercise. There is probably a constant internal dialogue that is just simply too hard to switch off but that might just take some vital brain-space away. That last bit you need to truly be in the zone, without the white noise.
So yes, you do probably achieve to forget about all the work and jobs waiting for you, because you’ve geared the focus away from it. But what if we could truly tune into a different frequency (the fundamental skills) and not worry about whether or not we succeed to do the perfect Roll Over, knowing it or getting it right, stress about an injury (and thus get tense), a bad back or a stiff neck, but can trust that we know and learn what part of the body moves us.
A typical exercise session is made up of building blocks. A sort of 3-course meal: warm up, full body work-out and cool down. The Pilates Mat and Reformer work even have a set order: each exercise sets you up for the next. Anticipating what follows and how you smoothly transition in to it is part of the work and what I love about it. You look for the red thread that joins the exercises and connects the dots. Flow and harmony are two of my favorite words in Pilates, for exactly that reason. What moves me is partly the effort and energy I put in before each exercise.
You can hear the question What moves you? any way you like. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about motivation, our emotional experience of exercise or what literally moves us, i.e. what works inside the body to move an arm, leg, turn your head, rotate the spine. What it comes down to is fitness, well-being, health and, dare I say it, joy and happiness when you exercise (I consider a small dose of positive pain and challenge joyful too). What moves me is the desire to feel great and to let a potentially debilitating health issue not have the better of me. Some days I’m absolutely rubbish at it, but if I got to the heart of my practice I will skip home nonetheless. All I’m saying is, don’t switch off: turn it ON and look for the thing that moves you.