She makes it look so easy! You may have said these words while marveling at someone going through their paces, whether it is a gymnast, ice skater, another type athlete or a practitioner of Pilates. It may be difficult to describe what is happening, but that quality of movement is unmistakable. There is a quality of grace, fluidity and ease, though you know of the difficulty. It is a sense of…serenity.
Our culture loves things that are hard, heroes that work against all odds and puts everything they have into accomplishing the desired goal. We value hard work and the rewards that hard work gives. And many exercise philosophies reflect that mentality: promising quick and wonderful results, participants are exhorted to workout like their life depends on it. Straining, pushing the body to keep going, do more, to ignore the complaints of the body is a popular modus operandi in many “boot” camps that are popular right now. However, what is not ever discussed is the price on the wear and tear of our body that is demanded. This is a great workout plan with great results until the blown out knee, bad back, or a sense of additional effort being needed for ever diminishing rewards.
I call this working in the Emergency Zone.
There is a big difference between the serenity and emergency zones in terms of movement. Serenity Zone means working from a strong foundational core in the most efficient way for your body to move. Go into the emergency zone, and your body ceases to look for the most efficient way of accomplishing the move, it just wants it done, NOW! Whatever the cost.
There are emergencies in our lives and it is good to be able to be prepared to meet them. But I see people who come into the studio that are going about their everyday lives with emergencies mode strategies. Moves are done with much effort, often more effort than is necessary. The strategies used for extreme situations such as lifting very heavy weights are used for minor everyday moves. Just standing up from a seated position requires a big heave ho and grunt.
Consequently, the high toll for moving in that way starts showing up and that is usually when people come to Pilates. They do not know exactly what is happening, but they can describe it-loss of energy, aches and pains, stiffness, not being able to do the things they used to do. Sooner or later, the bill comes due for inefficient movement and people are aghast on how high it is.
People come into my studio all the time searching for a better way. While not always able to really articulate it, from what is often described to me as to what they are looking for is a sense of ease, relaxation and wishing movement wasn’t always so hard. On the other had they want the ability to do more and more things. But easily. They are looking for serenity in movement.
Pilates is a method of teaching movement serenity. Displaying a quality of “it looks so easy!” takes strength, flexibility and control of the body to move as smoothly and efficiently as is possible. The cost of movement is minimized. Joseph Pilates would say,” Why pay 10€ for 5€ worth of work”? While I like saying we work HARD to make it easy, the investment is very well worth it. The payoff is a life with a sense of grace, energy, confidence and flow…aaahh, that’s serenity!
Owner / Instructor of Pilates Chattanooga