One of my students told me once that my superhero name would be The Abdominatrix. I love that. Love it. It might be my next Halloween costume. I could wear something sort of like Wonder Woman, but instead of bullet-blocking bracelets, I’d carry fat-blasting magic circles.
I’ve been teaching for a long time now, and over the years, I have realized a very peculiar phenomenon. Students take a class where I stood in corner observing all of them for an hour, cueing them through exercises, making up choreography, and offering modifications, and they think that I did the class with them. Granted, I might have demonstrated one or two exercises, but I didn’t get my workout in their class. Plus, any teacher will tell you that when they’re demonstrating an exercise, they bring their A game. Pride will keep us going. If it starts hurting too much, we’ll move on to something else (but we won’t tell you it’s because we’re tired).
There are a couple of beliefs that most Fuse Pilates students seem to have:
1. The teachers do Fuse every day, all day long.
2. We do the class with the students.
3. We can do everything.
I am here now, humbled, admitting, with my head hanging low, that those things are not true.
This is where I should list all of the exercises I completely suck at doing. Some of them are because my left leg doesn’t work quite right because of MS, but sometimes, I can’t pull that out as an excuse. Like any teacher or student, there are some exercises I do not do well.
You may well have heard me in class say “I hate this exercise” (kneeling side kicks, for instance), right before I ask you to do it. I hate it not because it’s not a good exercise. It’s a great exercise (Joe Pilates told me to say that… I really do hate it), but I don’t do it well. I never have. And since I hate it so much, I never practice it unless someone makes me do it in class. If I demo it, I guarantee I’m showing you with my stronger side. Here’s a pic from the Fuse Pilates mat teacher training materials. Look how miserable I look.
I also don’t like many back extension exercises because I have crazy tight shoulders.
Beyond that, endurance is not my strong suit. As my friend and fitness expert and trainer Lance Breger says, “if your teacher demonstrates something difficult, as him or her to do five more.”
For all of us, there are going to be the exercises we do well, and there will be ones we don’t. Of course, there’s a lot of a benefit in practicing the ones we don’t do well because those exercises show us our bodies’ weaknesses and imbalances. Are kneeling side kicks difficult for you? Evil, even? Then, probably your glute medius is weak (or maybe it just really is the awful exercise I think it is). The good (or bad) news is that the deeper you get into the Fuse Pilates work – and especially when you move it onto the apparatus – you see how uneven your body is or where exactly you are weak, so you know what you could benefit targeting.
So, to make all of you feel better about the exercises you hate, here are some of ours.
Mariska: Kneeling side kicks (weak abductors), most back extension exercises on the reformer (tight shoulders and pecs)
Clare: Rolling like a ball (unstable hips… she can’t do it well or sometimes at all), hip circles (again, unstable hips)
Addie: Pushups, especially tricep-focused variations (strong triceps, but somehow, pushups are still difficult)
Gillian: Criss-cross (something about the coordination of too many moving parts)
Rachel: Snake and Twist on the Reformer (she feels totally uncoordinated)
Allegra: Open leg rocker (you just never know how it’s going to turn out)
Mike: Elephant, down dog (anything that points out his tight hamstrings)
Deb: Lately, unmodified pushups (she’s pregnant)
Tori: Upper abs (easy enough for her to demo, but in class, she feels like dropping out)
Monica: Open leg rocker (tight hamstrings), anything seated with both legs straight and back straight (yep, tight hamstrings)
Briana: Any of those glute exercises on hands and knees (but they do get easier with practice)
Jocelyn: Teasers (her tight low back makes articulating through lumbar spine difficult)
Jen: Side-lying double leg lifts (awkward, feels like she has no body control)
Kelly: Side superman (Don’t know it? Don’t worry – Mariska removed it from the Fuse teacher training and all Fuse classes because she couldn’t find anyone who could do it well.)
Through time, we’ll likely change our opinions as we get stronger, more coordinated, or less pregnant. For now, we offer you our compassion. We get it. Thanks for putting up with the exercises you hate when we throw them at you.
Mariska and all of the Fuse Teachers