I love this article from our new full-time Pilates teacher Karie Meltzer! We so often joke in class about how much “comfort” should really be practiced in Pilates. I mean should you really be “comfortable” doing the Hundred, I don’t think so. Further more we as teachers are constantly asking you to go beyond your comfort zone and explore the space just on the other side. Pilates can help heal aches and pains, make you stronger, increase your stamina and certainly help with flexibility, but comfort, not a chance. Enjoy!
Rachael Lieck Bryce
You Are Now Leaving the Comfort Zone
By Karie Meltzer
As I sit down to write this, I feel as though I just returned from a barefoot marathon. Alas, I did no such thing. I did, however, take Rachael Lieck Bryce’s Intermediate Reformer class today, and used the Reformer without the luxurious footbar cushion…just the way Joseph Pilates intended. Did I volunteer to use that Reformer? Of course not. Rachael insisted, and after my initial protest, through clenched teeth I accepted.
As a Pilates instructor, I help my students find the delicate balance between their comfort zone and working zone every day. While I don’t want my students to feel any acute pain, I also wouldn’t feel like I was doing my job if they compared their Pilates session to an hour at the spa. Students may imagine that Pilates instructors find this balance in their own bodies effortlessly, but that’s not always the case.
I’ll admit that I am not the boldest risk-taker. I was raised by two lovely Jewish worriers who imagined danger around every corner. I was that kid who wasn’t allowed to leave the house with my rollerblades on unless I was also clad in knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and a helmet. In high school, my dad delayed my double date because the boy arrived in a pickup truck without enough seatbelts for the four of us. (The guy had to drive all the way back home and borrow his parents’ sedan. Needless to say, I never heard from him again after that night.)
I owe Pilates (the man and the method) a lot. Without it, I might be working the keyboard more than working the springs. It has been the perfect second career to challenge my body and mind, and for that reason, I love helping my students find their own confidence. There’s nothing like that first set of Pull-Ups on the Cadillac to give someone that Rosie the Riveter glow. When I first started Pilates as a student, I worried that I would break my neck doing a Roll Over. Now, if I don’t do them every week, my spine gets cranky.
Although I still haven’t tried cage diving with sharks or bungee jumping, I try to find ways to prove to myself that I’m not a wimp, like swimming in rocky Pacific waters in Mexico or hiking those last thousand feet in Colorado when my knees just wanted to quit.
But, there I was this morning, not wanting to press my feet into that cold, hard footbar because I knew it would hurt like hell. As Rachael said, the fact that it hurt was probably a sign that I needed it. Put another way, my seemingly delicate feet needed to be thrown in the deep end and pushed off the bridge. I happen to have a big hiking trip in my near future, and I realized that I should be working my feet on that bar more often.
While I don’t foresee a barefoot marathon in my future, let alone a barefoot jog, I know that Classical Pilates would be part of my preparation if one was. Not just because it has made me physically stronger, but because every time I escape that comfort zone, I become mentally tougher as well.