Confession: I Taught Pilates

Well… my version of pilates. My fellow trainer (as we yogis are called at the gym) wasn’t feeling well and asked that I sub for her pilates class. "Of course,” I said, as I’ll currently take any opportunity to teach!

I had about four hours to prepare, and these four hours fell during my 9–5 job, so it was more like 30 minutes while I schnarfed a salad. I had two options:

  1. Try new things. Step out of my box. Teach pilates.
  2. Do me. Teach yoga.

My arguments for both were long, from “You’ve never taught pilates,” and “Gosh, you don’t want to disgrace pilates instructors everywhere,” to “I should do what I’m taught,” and “Own it! Do you, boo!” Given that I now had 20 minutes to make a decision and think through a class, I went for it and decided to take a step outside of my comfort zone.

Fast forward to me googling “pilates,” “pilates vs. yoga” and “pilates moves.” (To be clear, I’m not wildly uneducated about pilates, but Google provides me a certain level of comfort. Like a best friend who just happens to know everything.) Contrary to what many believe, pilates and yoga are not the same thing, but they do have commonalities.

They both have a sequence or a pattern. And, most interestingly to me, they both connect to the breath: a different style of breath but breath nonetheless. And this was where I knew I could, at the very least, fake it until I make (made) it.

As the students entered the room, half knew I was the yoga teacher and the other half had no idea who I was. But this was when I decided to own it. I presented myself in my truth. “Hi! My name is Lauren, and I’m the yoga teacher, but tonight I’m covering pilates for the first time. Let’s do this together.”

A note about faking it: It is the same as believing in yourself. You need to be convinced that you can do it, and others will start to believe too. In fact, try recruiting folks to be a part of your success by being honest about where you are starting!

Oh sure, I bumbled around (I felt lost without my usual adho mukha svanasana) and most definitely lost count (do we really do this 20 times?!), but it certainly wasn’t awful. In fact, my core is a bit sore today, so it must have worked. (Right?)

During my training, my teacher passed along a wise nugget that I keep in mind every time I feel nerves at the start of a class: your students are cheering you on. They do not want you to fail. They want a great class, and they want you to be successful.

And last night I found this to be true. I did my pilates class as I would do any class with a fair bit of studying, thoughtful structuring and a lot of laughter. And the students were smiling, breathing and moving right along with me. 

So, for my first (and perhaps last) pilates class, I learned quite a bit:

  1. The arguments for owning what you know and doing new things are both very valid. Try the one that will challenge you the most.
  2. Be honest in your journey. It’s okay to be unsteady; you’re learning new things!
  3. Counting up to twenty is real hard.
  4. A little bit of humor can go a long way.
  5. I definitely love yoga.