I went into the process knowing that I was pulling myself totally out of my comfort zone. Sure, I know Pilates well. But I have a long history of struggles with confidence, body image, and self worth. While I've come a long- like thousands of miles long- way on these issues in the past few years, I sometimes feel them creeping back in. And that's normal, I suppose. Anyway, I was very nervous about this training program. First of all, I don't really consider myself the fitnessy type; like, for example, I don't even own a pair of tennis shoes. Also, I am painfully anxious about public speaking, and to be a teacher of any sort, well, you kind of have to speak to people.
But I signed up anyway. I intentionally threw myself into this thing that I was so nervous about. Why? Because I owe it to myself to believe in my own strength. Pilates makes me feel strong, and that's what I love about it. During the months last winter when I was incredibly sick and could feel my body deteriorating, Pilates was the one thing that made me feel strong. I don't know what it was exactly, but something about it just pulled that strength to the surface.
So I geared myself up for the long weekend of intensive training, and tried to act brave. It can be difficult to feel brave though in a room full of super fit and confident fitness instructors. Of course, everyone else was nervous too and it really wasn't that bad. The test-out still loomed over me though, and when the instructor asked if anyone wanted to test out early, I raised my hand before I could have the chance to second guess myself.
Fast forward to test out day. As I was waiting for the instructor to show up, I blurted out a quick plea for advice and asked if anyone could give me tips on how not to sound like a pubescent boy as I taught. Everyone sort of gave me a standard answer like "just breathe" and yada yada yada. But one kind, kind classmate really talked me through it and gave me some pretty great advice. He told me to practice "power poses" while I was waiting, and he explained how that signals to your body that you're powerful and strong, even if you don't necessarily believe it. Well, it couldn't hurt to puff out my chest and put my hands on my hips for a few minutes, I thought. So I did. And, it kind of actually worked! I got through my routine sans shaky voice and rapid heartbeat, and that was enough for me.
As it turned out, the only points I missed on the exam were for "confidence." As in, I didn't have enough of it. But whatever! Because I did wayyyyy better than I was expecting. And probably if the teacher would have seen me during my 8th grade social studies presentation where I was literally on the verge of tears and vomiting, she would've known how well I did.
Then, as if everything was coming full circle, the last question on the written part of the exam was this: "What do you want people to leave your class saying?" I thought about it for a minute. That was a great class, I thought about writing. Or What an amazing workout. But after I really thought about, I wrote I am strong! And it felt so good. It felt good to write it, it felt good to believe it, and it felt good to think that I could inspire others to feel it too. I will feel successful as a teacher if I can help people want to be strong. Not skinnier, not prettier, not anything like that. I want to empower people (especially women) to embrace their strength. So, there you go.