"Remember, too, that 'Rome was not built in a day' and that patience and persistence are vital qualities to the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor. Practice your exercises with the fixed and unalterable determination that you will permit nothing else to sway you from keeping faith with yourself."
- Joseph H. Pilates, from his book, Return to Life through Contrology, published in 1945.
Like many of you, I started Pilates because I wanted to change circumstances that held me back from feeling my healthiest. I wanted to build strength and reduce chronic pain wrought from dance overuse injuries, major abdominal surgery, and a suddenly sedentary lifestyle. Without much variability in my exercise choices, I felt restricted in my body and mind. While every person's entry to Pilates is distinctive, we are each tasked with shifting our movement routine respecting our goals. If the idea of buttoning a new practice into your brimming schedule seems impossible, know that you don't have to make dramatic changes or subscribe to rigorous routines. A lot of the tips I'm listing below sound obvious, but I think it's helpful to hear them in the context of beginning a new movement regime, especially Pilates.
Reframe your habits by appreciating what you already do
It's likely that you're already on the right track in many regards to your health, so be sure not to discount the things you do for yourself that make you feel wonderful - especially if those things include time with your family and loved ones. Recognize accomplishments in your career, your personal life, and your leisure time and recall how at one point, some of the skills you can now perform with facility were once brand new. Identify your learning style and apply it to fostering a movement routine. Regard your movement routine as complementary to your existing interests.
Find the easiest point of entry
As with any learned skill, progressing in Pilates requires patience and repetition at a pace specific to you and your learning style. In order to usher in more time for movement outside of a weekly lesson, make it as easy as possible for yourself to be active. There are multiple ways of doing this including putting your props in plain sight, finding a motivating buddy (human or animal) with whom to exercise, and bartering sedentary time for active time. If you’re just starting out, I recommend the nearby props (think hand weights, mat) and bartering tactics (especially helpful now that the weather is pleasant!). "I make sure I practically trip over my mat and roller when I wake up," a client of mine working on building strength after shoulder surgery announced to me one morning. Another client of mine who was very new to being active would perform her pre-Pilates fundamentals as soon as she woke up, in bed, layering the exercises into her beloved and unbreakable existing morning habit of “first, coffee and the news.”
Understand that your wellness routine includes all activity
Consider the amount of time per week you actually spend moving, not just "exercising." Even 4 or 5 hours of vigorous exercise each week consumes a wimpy snippet of the hundreds of hours in a week. Think about how you can fill your non-exercise time with a variety of movement. If you love walking, gardening, playing fetch with the dog, cooking, playing with the kids, etc, you’re moving and it counts. Become familiar with your local trails, like my studio’s namesake Crescent Trail, for movement in a serene atmosphere. Whatever the activity, work in some of the alignment discoveries and tips you learned during your last Pilates lesson. Keep recognizing the ways you'd like to move with efficiency and power throughout your day, and ask me for ways to achieve those goals.
Focus and flow
If you feel defeated by the lack of active time you’ve had so far in a day, give yourself five extra minutes to do one of the simple fundamental movement exercises you’ve learned in your lessons, like the standing foot exercises or hand weight series. Stop worrying if you skip an hour of a specific "exercise" program and note the other ways you were active. Remember that you don’t actually need a "reset" or "cleanse" - to use a couple of the buzzwords - but just a subtle shift in your habits. Whatever time you have to invest, enjoy and marvel at what your body has done and know it will constantly change, requiring your attention and love.