I am not too much of a video game player, but I when I was a little girl I remember vividly the year that my parents bought my sister, brother and I our first Playstation and the original Crash Bandicoot game. We were instantly hooked and it was something fun we could all do together. We worked as a team to advance through the levels slowly, teaching each other the hacks and route as we went along and taking turns whenever one of us lost a life. And especially in the beginning that was often, so the remote was constantly being passed around! It took a long time, probably over a week to make it through the very first level without dying which we were thrilled about; feeling very accomplished and rightly so. But then came level two – and it was like starting all over again. Of course we could leverage some of the skills we had learned in the previous round; we had already experienced jumping, ducking, and spinning, but now each of those things became more complex. We had to jump higher and further than before, we had to not only duck under things, but stay crawling for a distance, and there were all kinds of new tricks to master. Just when you thought you had made it – a new challenge awaited, which kept us captivated for hours/weeks/months/years. And although we obviously weren’t quite aware of it at that age, the game was teaching us an important life lesson (aside from just being a lot of fun) – if you’re doing it right, things just get harder. Although you may continue to improve and grow, you should never stop learning.
One of my favorite quotes, which I have seen attributed to many different fitness experts including Joseph Pilates was first introduced to me in my classes back at Pure Barre Cranston: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” And I have continued to remind myself of that each class I take (which has certainly never become less challenging!) throughout the past 4.5 years. Although you get stronger, it never gets easier. It’s crazy, but even though I’ve averaged more than a class a day since starting, I still deepen my understanding of the exercises and movement constantly. And something which has contributed greatly to my continued learning in this area has been Pilates. Reformer Pilates was something I added to my regular workout regimen a little over two years ago and I started teaching it about 9 months after that first wobbly long stretch. It, like barre, is intensely and endlessly challenging and it never ceases to amaze me just how much I still have to learn! It’s like playing Crash with my family, as soon as I start to get confident that I really know or understand something well, another door is opened and I am reminded why I should never stop learning.
This past weekend I headed up to Dublin for some more formal Reformer training with Ireland’s only certified Pilates Master. And it was such an invaluable experience. Although I’d say I’ve become much stronger since the last time she had seen me, I was completely humbled as I received one correction or adjustment after the other on not only all kinds of new and ridiculously hard tricks on the machine, but also on some of the very most basic aspects where I can still work so much harder or better. I felt just as the often quoted Michel Legrand did when he said, “the more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.” A basic principle of Pilates is that it will never become easy – we should never stop learning, asking and expecting more from ourselves as we continue to gain strength. It only gets more challenging as you improve and learn. I’m walking away feeling a bit overwhelmed by how little I actually do know, but completely exhilarated by the fact that there is still so much I can learn.
Although I would insist that there is probably not a single person out there who could not benefit from incorporating Pilates into his or her life, there is definitely not a single person out there who could not benefit from making a commitment to never stop learning. Continuous learning and growth is a big aspect of living a happier, more fulfilling and richer life. Being willing to learn, in any area of our lives, usually means moving out of that comfortable first level you’ve mastered and humbling yourself to progress into the next one. It can be scary, it can be frustrating, and it can be overwhelming, but anytime I have pushed myself and been willing to learn, the results were so worth it – whether that was level 3 of Crash Bandicoot or level 3 of Reformer instructor training. Find something you’re passionate about and NEVER STOP LEARNING!