Lessons for work and life from Pilates

I started Pilates to improve the health of my back. Many years later, I’m still “practicing.” In a weird lightbulb moment, my brain recently connected some key tenets of Pilates to my everyday life and work that I feel compelled to share.  Perhaps I’ll sway you to add Pilates to your fitness regimen and, more importantly, to your daily mindset in tackling life and work challenges.

  • Slow and controlled – Pilates is all about precise, slow movements.  If we slow down in life and work, we inevitably make fewer mistakes and get better outcomes.
  • Breathing is important – There’s very little in life that taking a moment to focus on your breath cannot help with.
  • Posture and good form – Shoulders back and down, stand tall, and lengthen your spine – all phrases you’ll hear often in a Pilates class. In life and work, standing tall is an immediate confidence boost. And five really solid crunches with perfect form is more beneficial than 75 sloppy ones. So, take your time and do it right.
  • Conquer your fear – There are some advanced moves in Pilates, particularly on the various apparatuses, that have had me feeling weak in the knees and with shaky hands.  “Oh no, I can’t do that,” I’d think as I watched an instructor demonstrate. But with an inner voice (and an instructor) encouraging me to try, I eventually breathe past the fear (see above) and give it a go.  I’m not claiming it’s pretty or perfect on the first attempt, but I at least try.
  • Listen to the experts – I’m fortunate the studios where I train have top-notch instructors.  Always seek out the experts and let them guide you. Recognize when you need help. There’s no shame in needing some coaching and advice.

The mind-body connection is a key component to Pilates. The same lessons that help us achieve that connection in Pilates (or any exercise) can help us in the day-to-day challenges of life, work, and finding the balance between the two.