3/4 of the way through a “chain-ized” pilates class this week, I snuck on my sweater and left the studio.

I initially felt guilty, but the reason I left was born out of anger and frustration at the fitness industry and how we are collectively misleading and misguiding clients.

1. The instructor offered one set of cues and when I couldn’t do it, she simply stood closer to me and repeated the same instruction. Result: I felt subtly shamed into doing things my body wasn’t ready/willing/able to do.

2. The pumping music, which I assumed would get turned down once class started, only got louder. Result: we are told to “listen to your body”, but personally? All I could hear was techno.

3. The timer. “30 seconds left, and 28, and now 25….” Result: the subtle but real message that exercise is something to be endured, second by second.

4. The timer, part II: “and 3 more, now 2 and 1 and stop!” Result: Those cues don’t help me get to know where I’m supposed to be feeling the work, get to know my body, make adjustments based on my skeleton or fitness level, or even understand if I’m getting injured.

5. She literally told us to “activate our pelvic floor, and I can say that because there aren’t any men in the room”. Result: An implication that the pelvic region of the body is something secretive, laughable and not to be discussed. None of the above are true, and — ps — men have pelvic floors too.

So I left.

As a client, I was literally debating whether I should “do what you’re being told” or ignore her and do what my body was clearly telling me to do in order to avoid pain. Yikes.

My viewpoint: your body isn’t simply a machine that needs to willed into submission. At some point, I want to provide my students with both the guidance and ability to try different versions of an exercise. Your body is yours and you should know more about how to modify than any instructor. Not being “allowed” is a toxic mindset that leads to pain and injury.

Even with all the knowledge I have, I felt ashamed that I couldn’t “keep up.” So even I struggled to apply all the things I teach to clients about functional movement when hit with “30 seconds, and deeper, and 28 seconds and take it lower”. Yup, I guess we are all 14 when publicly competing.

I’m committed to continuing to provide a different way to work with your body. I provide the mental and mechanical information for you to critically think about your own body.

Even if that means walking out.

Or turning up that techno.

If you want to learn more, I’m at 514-804-0504.

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