I want to talk a bit about PE. No, not physical education but perceptions and expectations. Often when people discover I am a Pilates instructor, I encounter "the look". A quick appraising once-over that says I don't fit the image. The traditional notion is that Pilates instructors are long and lean like dancers. I was a dancer and it was another mold I didn't fit into. Maybe it is my own perception but sometimes I wonder if people think I should try harder, eat better, do more and then maybe I would look long and lean. That is the carrot that is dangled to convince people to start working out but there are variables you can not control .
At my leanest, even though I had stopped menstruating, I still did not look like a dancer.I did not have an eating disorder, I was just very active. I taught aerobic classes, waited tables, danced in college and pursued activities like hiking and gymnastics. I found myself in the office of a plastic surgeon contemplating liposuction. I chose not to pursue surgery because I realized surgery would not give me the thighs of a dancer. I also realized that though I did not fall into the expected aesthetic, I had every right to dance.
I have always been curious about the body and as I continued my education, gained experience and obtained certifications I realized we, as fitness professionals, have a responsibility to encourage healthy expectations in our client population. The allure of false advertising; 21 day results, 7 minute abs, wacky techniques and contraptions, prey on desperation. The perception is that if you follow that program you will look like the person teaching it.Most people do not look like fitness professionals, even in some cases, the professionals themselves.
Don't get me wrong, we can improve whatever we have to work with. We can become healthier, fitter and yes, better looking. But every body deserves the opportunity to find the right amount and type of activity that will lead to the above results. You should not have to look fit to get fit and you should not expect to become the mirror image of your instructor or trainer. Remember, you are an individual and your age, gender, and genetics all play a role as does your lifestyle. Considering your perceptions and expectations about your body and health before, during and when you achieve a goal will keep you realistic and on track.
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