One of the most rewarding parts of teaching Pilates and being a student of Pilates is introducing a new exercise or increasing the level of difficulty to an exercise that has been mastered.

In those first attempts at executing a new move, students (myself included) inevitably struggle. It is in those first attempts, though, that we experience something amazing. I’m always reminded at these moments – and remind my students too – that perfection is boring.

Rather than get frustrated with ourselves, it is an opportunity to turn inward and (re)discover certain aspects of our bodies and our movements that we hadn’t noticed before.

In the struggle to pull the straps fluidly, to balance ourselves, or to lift or move through our core, we discover how to recruit or – as importantly – to relax various muscles. We improve our alignment. We become more focused in our minds.

We’re literally building new pathways in the brain. This process is food for the brain which is especially critical in our 30s, 40s and beyond.

It can also enrich our spirits, if we’re willing to let the inner-critic or perfectionist go. Mastering a new move – whether it takes a few sessions or a few years – can fill us with a sense of pride and accomplishment. 

After nearly 11 years of Pilates practice, I still look forward to the struggle of learning new moves. And I love advanced moves that still leave me wobbly. I laugh at my graceless execution because I have nothing to lose and so much to gain if I’m willing to let go and learn.