Find an exercise method you love, then do both the exercises you love and the exercises you don’t like consistently! I know the importance of moving and I know if you don’t enjoy what you are doing you will not do it consistently and that’s really what you need to get the benefits from movement. So when I say something like, “Usually the things you need the most are the things we don’t like!”, it seems contradictory! But let me explain.
I don’t care how much you love your Pilates practice I know that you have said (either out loud or in your head) “I hate this one. I just don’t like it because it just doesn’t feel good. It’s hard.” You might be careful about saying that because Pilates instructors have learned that the “I don’t like this” reaction is usually a tell-tale sign that the movement is one you should do more consistently.
So why do we not like certain exercises? There’s a few reasons that I have found that consistently come up.
Our Ego. We are hard wired to feel this way: Whether or not we like to admit it, most of us have a little of a perfectionist in us. We don’t like the feeling of not being able to do something. And this is a great thing! Because when you want to do something and you can’t it’s a great motivator to practice that skill and get better! If we were not hard-wired this way, we would have never learned to walk, ride a bike or do any other skills we used to function in life! It is human nature to not like something that we’re not good at or something that is hard for us! The key is to focus on overcoming this feeling of not being able to do something well and not just giving up doing the exercise because “we don’t like it”.
The exercise or movement is still new: Sometimes what we forget that doing anything for the first time is not necessarily easy or comfortable. Your muscles and nervous system are trying to do something they have never done before. It takes time to get to the place where your muscles are firing when they are supposed to so that you can do the movement. One of my favorite qualities about the Pilates method is what I call the depth of the practice. You can practice the same exercise for years, yet every time you do it you fine tune your ability to do it well and in a way that is best for your body. Every time you practice that exercise, you get more “comfortable” with how the exercise feels in your body and your ability to do it well. When something is new, it feels completely opposite to that: uncomfortable and awkward! Nobody ever says to themselves,” I like to feel awkward and uncomfortable!”.
We have to work really hard to do it well: When an exercise makes us work muscles that are weak or unbalanced in our body, it takes an incredible amount of effort and concentration. For most people having to concentrate so much and engage those muscles does not feel fun or good, it feels like work! And let’s face it, work does not feel enjoyable!
So the next time you say “I don’t like this”, turn the table around and try to say something like:
“I really don’t like how challenging this exercise is for me. I’m going to be really dedicated to practicing it regularly and see if I can change how it feels in my body! My reaction of not liking this tells me it’s probably challenging for my body and I should try to practice it more!”
Of course if something hurts or is causing strain in your body then that is not OK and let your teacher know so they can adjust it the exercise.