• TSimon

Growth mindset; you can be anything you practice

Side Bend Pilates Mat Class

Have you ever decided not to do something fitness related because you simply “aren’t that type of person”? Does it sometimes seem to you that there is a subgroup of human beings that are really INTO fitness and this just isn’t where your interests lie so, despite all the science and benefits physical fitness activities can provide, you almost actively choose “No, thanks.” I’m not like them. I’m <insert any descriptor>.

I’m going to really enjoy this next part because I’m exactly like you. I am not into fitness. I do not enjoy big groups. I am a terrible team player. Do not encourage me while I’m trying something difficult, I’m focusing, and this is especially true when it’s a physical challenge. Hold your applause until the end, please.

I’m lazy in a way that means I’ve had to set myself up to succeed by making my values my literal life means.

If you read my bio or any other blog on this website, you also know I’m a past Olympian and currently, a Pilates instructor. I’m fascinated by movement. I’m curious about the effects on our brains, our moods, our emotions, and yes, our bodies. But, if given a choice between a good book and a group hike, I’m 8/10 times going to pick the book. I’ve lamented that my social group is a bunch of athletes because it’s kept me active against my will. I’ll take the bus over a bike unless coerced. I’ll admit, being a Pilates instructor is -at least in part- a passive way to stay fit. I’m lazy in a way that means I’ve had to set myself up to succeed by making my values my literal life means.

Understand that I’ve already been convinced by the science and received the benefits of physical fitness. I’m a lucky duck that learned this stuff really early on in life through no active choice of my own. When you’re 12 you go where you’re taken. So, not only am I comfortable in athletic environments, I’m an admitted elitist. Which is hilarious, because swimming does not translate to many things outside the water. Hand-to-eye coordination? Meh. Ball skills? Non-existent. Throwing? Big no-no for my hypermobile shoulder joint. The point is, I am comfortable regardless of my skill level because of my personal experiences in athletic environments.

We all feel fear outside the comfort zone of our personal experience and it is incredibly easy to have the perceptions that we want to be reinforced guide us the direction we'd rather go; perhaps backward to comfort and familiarity.

I was a public swimmer until I wasn't.

Based solely on my level of participation.

It can be intimidating to start something new. We have all sorts of thoughts in our heads about how we are perceived by others. And whether or not they prove true is completely irrelevant. If you want to be somewhere, you'll be there. If you want a skill, you'll put time into learning it. That intrinsic motivation will withstand external pressure. Think of any skill you have and I'm sure you'll remember a moment of discouragement somewhere along the way. I was a public swimmer until I wasn't. Based solely on my level of participation. When you hit an objection or lose motivation for whatever it is you are attempting, remember your reason for starting.

As an instructor, it's intimidating to teach a new client and not take their continued (or discontinued) participation personally. Most of the time that is the only true feedback a wellness professional gets. There are so many variables to any given hour with any given group, that even the most confident seeming of teachers has to adjust to on the fly. We never really know what we’re getting into; just like you.

Next time you consider joining a class, don't fool yourself that you are the only nervous one in the room. Comfort comes over time. Ability comes through attempts. Participation is the best way to step out of the public and be heard. Just showing up is how everyone starts.

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