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Facing the challenge of developing new treatment skills through Pilates.

Have you ever felt self-conscious during a workout? Awkward during a backwards roll in yoga? Uncoordinated when learning to snatch? Vain when you’re checking yourself out in the hundreds of mirrors that are relentlessly reminding you of your less than optimal posture? No? Yeah, me either...

Just kidding!

I’m the person who needs all of the mirrors, all of the cueing and will probably end up making the most noise during yoga due to the fact that even if I get into a backwards roll, I will most definitely be falling out of it with a not so subtle crash.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. My strengths: thorough understanding of anatomy and biomechanics through professional education and personal goals. Yay, physical therapy! My weaknesses: limited mobility at my hips and low back along with an obvious lack of coordination (or what I would refer to professionally as articulation and disassociation, moving one bone independently of another).  Nay to being able to practice what I preach!

As I personally venture down a road of new forms of physical development through the study of Pilates, these weaknesses have not only been highlighted but have come around to slap me in the face, both literally and metaphorically. How can spinal articulation, the movement of one vertebrae over the other, be so difficult? Moving from a straight position to a bent position -- I can imagine it! “Inhale to prepare as you lengthen your spine, exhale tuck your chin and roll up as you peel your spine off of the floor one vertebrae at a time…” That makes sense, right? Not for my body! The Pilates roll up has proved to be the most humbling exercise and has provided me with a challenge to become my own subject. How can I become competent in my own practice?

Over the past month, I have incorporated a variety of exercises of which I prescribe clients on a daily basis, modified the exercise with the use of a towel roll under my low back, and even sought out advice from my amazing fellow co-workers of similar, but unique educational backgrounds. Even though I have ways to go before I can perform a roll up even half as well as some of my clients, I continue to press forward and notice slow improvements.

Transitioning from incompetence to competence is difficult – From what I have experienced, acceptance of your current abilities is key. We start out with subconscious incompetence, meaning we know not what we do. Then we move onto conscious incompetence where we know now that what we do is incorrect, but are incapable or unaware of how to fix it. Where I lie currently is conscious competence. I understand what my body needs to do, I am doing it, but it is a conscious and forced effort to move each bone independently of the others. Subconscious competence is where my goals will be met. Slowly but surely, I will go from lying on the floor to rolling up one bone at a time into an upright, seated position with impeccable posture of which every mother in history would be proud of without a feeling of being stuck (or embarrassed that I’m the only one left lying down in a Mat Pilates class). That day will come – and so will yours!