The Language of Pilates Week Two: PERFECTION

This month I am digging deep into the Language of Pilates. I love getting deep into words and their intended meanings. Pilates was originally called Contrology, which is the art and study of control. Sometimes we can get carried away and it becomes the art and study of PERFECTION. But the art and study of control has very little to do with perfection. Think about that for a minute.

Personally, I find more art in the wobble, during an exercise that challenges balance, than effortless balance. I am more interested in exploring the challenges presented to a body and the response to the challenge than just easy execution.

When I meet new students, whether they have been practicing for a while or not they often say, “I’ll never be a ballet dancer.” Because of their perception of Pilates, they feel like they need to apologize for not having perfect movement. Yes, a lot of ballet dancers practice Pilates. That does not mean that you have to look, act or move like a ballet dancer, in order to feel successful in your Pilates practice. Also, ballet is beautiful but that doesn’t mean their movement is always perfect either.

People often apologize for movement or transitions not being graceful. Guess what? I am never asking you for grace. I am never asking for perfection. I am always asking you to be who you are. I am always asking you to show up fully as who you are in that moment. Not as a ballet dancer. Not as who you were when you were 12. Not as who you might be in two years. But who you are right now and what you have to offer your body and practice, is always enough. You do not have to be anything other than who you are right now to walk in the door and let me guide you through movement. Pilates meets you where you are and I do too. So let’s stop trying to be perfect and see what our body is telling us through movement. 

Perfection isn’t attainable. There is beauty in imperfection. I try to remind my students with my language, that what they have right now is enough. Even just being in the present moment is enough. There are days that making it to the studio and walking in the door can be a feat. I am far from perfect. I still catch myself using that word when I am teaching sometimes. But when it slips out of my mouth, it is usually because people are being authentic with their movement. That is enough perfection for me.  


Jennifer Gouge photography at Parnassus Books.