Discussion #2039

Exercise Guidelines

15 min - Discussion


A common question for people who are starting Pilates is, "How often should I do Pilates?" Deborah Lessen tells us how self-awareness is crucial to answering this question. Her mentor, Carola Trier asked her clients how they felt before every session. This is important because your body changes each day, and you need to know your body throughout the different stages of your life. Carola said that "exercise is movement with a purpose," and Deborah will inspire you to find your intention.
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Feb 06, 2015
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So I'm really excited. We're here today with Deborah lesson and we're going to enlist her help on a question that I get all the time, which is how much exercise should I do or how much [inaudible] should I do? Um, and I get it from all sorts of people, whether I'm an athlete, whether I'm just starting out. So I'm going to open this tutorial first by greeting you. Thank you for being here again, Deborah. My pleasure. And if you could, you know, is there a straight answer to how much Pilati should I do? Well, I would like to go back to my training with Corolla treer Corolla started every session with every client with the question, how do you feel today?

And I learned over the years that this was not a rhetorical question, but she was asking them, did you have a good night's sleep? Have you eaten yet today? How do your muscles feel? What do you have to do for the rest of the day? Like, do you have to save energy for other things later in the day? And, um, some people are very aware of these things and other people are very unaware. And as PyLadies teachers, we have to move our clients in the direction of becoming self aware so that they can learn to manage their own.

So are you saying that it's really a responsibility of the individual or, or can you elaborate? Yes. I think that anyone, one starting a personal practice, whether it's [inaudible] or yoga or some other form is starting on a very long journey and their teacher's job ideally becomes obsolete when the practitioner takes charge of their own body and their own health. And to me that's inherent in the idea of a daily practice. Now we're not the same every day. Um, we don't feel the same every day. So that aspect of checking in with ourselves is very important. And if it's a conversation between you and your teacher, you and a family member, you want a close friend, that's fine as long as you do it and you start cataloging your responses so that your cumulative experience in noticing how you feel, how much energy you have will work to inform you as time goes on.

I would suggest that if you are exercising along with a video that you do some kind of either warm up or meditation, you know, whatever works for you beforehand so that you don't get carried away with the video and start doing things that maybe are not safe for you. And you have to know your own body to know how hard you can push at any given time. What are questions you would ask yourself prior to doing? [inaudible] I mean your Deborah lesson, you've been, you know, your studio since 1983. You train with Corolla before that. You, your Martha Graham. I mean you, you know your body and you, um, you can do anything by most accounts. So what questions do you ask yourself that factor into how you're going to either choose a video or, or participate within a given workout? Okay. Well, first of all, knowing myself in my sixties is completely different from knowing myself in my twenties, thirties and forties. Um, the questions are very different. Okay.

I would say in my twenties it would have been how many classes and how many hours of rehearsal do I have today so that I really get the purpose of my [inaudible] practice. It's a warmup and it's a way to pull my body together so that I don't hurt myself the rest of the day. I'm in my thirties after I stopped dancing my, my late thirties, I put more of my movement self into my pilates because I wasn't dancing any longer. So I wanted to do more in my sessions, you know, splits and things like that. Cause you didn't have to do them on stage later. That's right. I wasn't saving myself in my sixties.

My body is very different. I've had surgeries, um, I've had illnesses and my body doesn't feel the same. My muscles don't feel the same. I need much more warm up or I know my muscles will cramp. So if I embark on taking a class, say a video class, and I know that my hamstrings aren't stretched enough or not warm enough, I have to perhaps edit what I do in that class so that I don't cramp because it's a given. I know I will. There's a lot I want to get out of what you just said.

And the first thing I think of is, you know, here you are a dancer on stage in a big way and how do you, and that's when you're learning Pele's originally I know when I learned Pele's originally different, very in terms of where I was in my world and I was never a dancer. But how do you transition, how do you know when it's time to ask different questions or, or can you speak to the person who still thinks they're the dancer? You know, how do you know when you're asking the right question to know that you're getting appropriate level of exercises? And really it was speaking to the whole point of [inaudible] right? That you leave [inaudible] session with more access, more vitality, more ability to do what you really love. Is that right?

Yes. Um, this is one of the most difficult life challenges and complicated questions because we could, we could go to a physical therapist and an orthopedist and they would give us guidelines, but really we have to use our instinct that is built over a very long period of time. There are no lines that we cross over when we transitioned from, you know, how we feel our body in our twenties to how we feel our body in our forties. It's a very slow change and noticing is the biggest and most arduous thing that we do throughout our lives. And as a matter of fact, as [inaudible] teachers, that observation of our clients over a very long period of time is 90 to 95% of what we do because that is our window into, uh, how that client is feeling subtle changes in their body over time. So it's the flip side of what we're trying to learn for, for ourselves. And, and do you think that people can do that without a teacher? I mean, I think some people can. I think other people need little nudges pushing them in the right direction. But as a teacher, it's so amazingly satisfying to see a client take the reins and say, no, I don't feel up to doing this today. I think I want to do that instead.

You know, your interaction with, with a doctor is basically when you don't feel well or on your annual wealth checkup, what, whereas your PyLadies teacher sees you at least once a week and see changes that are occurring in your body. Okay. So that's good. But what about the people that aren't regularly seeing a teacher? What about the people who, um, want to take responsibility for themselves but don't quite know how and what, what about those people? Well, again, I would accentuate noticing now we all, uh, suffer from, from wondering whether we're babying ourselves or whether we're pushing too hard because we think that we're supposed to. And so we, we all deal with that. But if you don't have a teacher or a person to bounce that off of, then you have to be noticing more.

If you notice that you complain to your or your family members about every little thing you're feeling in their body and they start pulling away from you, then maybe you're going a little too far. But, but basically, again, it comes down to your own instinct. And how does Pele's help that? Like I think you can use it philosophies too, for lots of reasons, for more zest, for life, for better physical fitness, a lot of things. But I also think personally that polities can be the perfect vehicle for becoming more aware. But do you have any comment on that? Whether you agree or not agree? I mean, how does [inaudible] fit into the scenario as a practice? Um, pilates is a discipline. And in your discipline, for instance, if you, if you, if ballet is your discipline, um, at least the, you are bar work, which is the beginning of your class. Every day is the same.

And that's your barometer. That's where you say, Oh, you know, this is really easy today. I feel great. I feel like I could jump more today. Um, because you can measure it against the last time you did that warm up. Yes. And every other day, right? Um, Corolla used to use to say that your, your Polonius was like carpet underlayment. What it was like the level of stuff that you put underneath the carpet. Oh, it doesn't show, but it's, it's the, the layer that makes it all work flesh.

And so if we can quote her children's book exercise, what it is, what it does at the very beginning. And this is aimed at children. She asks, um, you, you play ball, you run, you jump, you go to dance class, you ride your bicycle, why exercises? Well, and the answer is to do all those things better. So piles isn't an end in itself. It is, it services all the different ways in which you use your body, including your pedestrian life. I'd also like to mention that a Corolla says in her book that exercise is movement with a purpose. And so we need to constantly think about what the purpose is for each one of us.

May Not be the same for me as it is for you. Or the same for me at this age as 20 years ago. Same for me today as it was yesterday, if I'm correct. Correct. And so we go back to noticing, wow, I think that's personally the whole point of holidays from me and I think ultimately kind of can't get away from it if you, if you are consistent and that is that if you're going to progress that there is a certain amount of repertoire and I think it's point is to pay attention. It's, it's a way of paying attention and there's lots of ways of paying attention. It's a, you can meditate, you could do Palladia, you could call it the same thing, but it is part of it in terms of deepening the work and going forward and uh, this helps a lot. I think it helps clarify, you know, learning, reminding ourselves what Joseph [inaudible] point was, his philosophy or remembering that exercise is not for exercise sake.

It's for the sake of living better. Um, thank you. Yes. And the validity of your practice is the same whether you're a beginner or you're very advanced because it's really just about you. Thank you. You are welcome.


3 people like this.
Thank you Kristi and Deborah. Lovely reminder of what Joe was trying to send out to the world. Would love to get the book that Carola wrote. I got to see one when I visited Jillian Hessel.
2 people like this.
Thank you! Great discussion, interesting points of view and perfect waves behind! :)
Erica V
Very interesting! Thank you.
Intuition, intelligence, instinct... We have to open up for it and use it in our practice!
1 person likes this.
You said you are in your sixties, You look beautiful. You look healthy. happy, So much love in your heart. thank you, for sharing it with Pilates anytime. I love their programme. blanche.
Deb, wonderful insights on Pilates practice. I start every day with a reformer workout, depending on how I feel it is a vigorous one or just a stretch and move. It starts my day as a success and I cannot imagine not doing it. Loved what you said about a 60 year old body - something I have to always remember and treat my body and soul gently when it does not respond as it did in my earlier decades. Thanks for the talk. Love to hear more from you and see some more classes.
Reiner G
1 person likes this.
Agree with Deborah to check in with the clients prior to the class. I can do better
Lara E
As an ex dancer and starting Pilates at age 50 Deborah's gentle advice was so relevant to me. "Pilates is about YOU" ... wow that is so simple and yet so powerful! Awareness, observation and instincts yes I can identify with all of those. Thank you for this video which has completely inspired me and made me feel confident that I am on the right track for the next adventure in my life.
2 people like this.
Great guidance and insight for teachers AND students. So many good points!
Maggie, Deborah was here last weekend and blew us all away with her good points and consistent message. Please keep and eye out for her tutorials and classes that will be on the site in a few weeks.
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