The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

Pilates Lates Bo Blates, Banana Fana Fo Folates, Fee Fi Mo Mates, Pilates!

on January 14, 2013

Given my great experience with belly dancing this week I thought I would share a story about a time I found myself in a less than warm and welcoming exercise environment and how one teacher learned a lesson.

My friend Carrie, who I adore, is a stick bug.  She’s pretty, and kind and smart and lovely and tall and willowy, and when I stand beside her I feel like a stink bug.  I had never taken Pilates before, but she assured me that it was great, so we checked the listings for the local community centres and found a class for Level 1 Pilates.  The first week we arrived and the instructor, a rather dramatic woman named Deborah, asked each student, in turn, to tell her their experience with Pilates.  One person indicated that they had never taken Pilates before and Deborah seemed perturbed by this, but didn’t say too much.  Then she got to Carrie who told her about her experience taking lessons at a Pilates studio.  When she got to me next I smiled and pointed to Carrie and said “I’m with her.”  Deborah ruffled and asked again what my experience was and I said none.  At this point Deborah, said that this simply would not do, as this was a level 1 course and NOT a beginner’s course.  As Carrie had signed me up, I shot her a sideways glance and she shrugged and looked confused.

Deborah informed me that the beginner class was on another day and that I should go to that class as this class was more advanced and not suitable for beginners.  Her tone implied that I was supposed to get up that instant and leave her presence.  To be frank, I was pissed.  The other student who also didn’t have background in Pilates wasn’t told to go to another class, the other student wasn’t made to feel unwelcome, the other student wasn’t overweight.  I remained calm, but my tone was unpleasant and I asked if I could at least stay for the class since I was already here. When a third person admitted that they were also a beginner, Deborah went to get the course catalogue and it turned out that both classes were listed as Level 1.  As no beginners course appeared to be offered, we’d made an honest mistake signing up for Level 1.  Deborah finally  agreed that we could stay and the class proceeded.

During the class she went from student to student helping them, adjusting their posture and moving their limbs, but she stayed away from me.  As the class went on I became more and more incensed because she was ignoring me.  I got that she didn’t want me in the class and that I didn’t fit her ideal of a Pilates student, but she was simply being rude and I was in the wrong class through no fault of my own.

At the end of the class she had a change of heart and decided that those of us who did not have the background were permitted to stay.  I went up to her  and specifically asked if I could stay.  I wasn’t going to put up with 10 weeks of being ignored or treated like a second class citizen.  She seemed confused by my question and then nodded and said that I could stay.

The next week I arrived for class only to find out that Carrie was sick and I was going to have to go it alone.  Dread welled inside me.  As we sat on our mats waiting for Deborah to take attendance and get everyone settled a new student walked in and after a brief discussion it was clear that she too was supposed to be in the beginners class.  This time Deborah was polite, but firm and said that no this student would need to go to the other class.  She said that she had let a few students stay who did not have the pre-req, but that students like Cynthia had exceptional body awareness and so they were permitted to stay.  I had no idea what that meant, but I was pretty sure it was a compliment.

When I got home I called Carrie to check in on her, but mostly to ask what it meant to be told one has exceptional body awareness.  Apparently this is a high compliment.  It turns out that the teacher wasn’t ignoring me in that first class, she just didn’t need to correct me.  I was dumbfounded.

The next week Deborah approached me after class and asked if I was a dancer.  I felt like telling her that I was the chick in the circus who hangs from the big top by her hair, but I smiled and said no.  She asked if I had studied dance as a child.  I really wanted to laugh because my dance career consisted of three years of highland dancing lessons starting when I was 5 and all I remember doing was whining and bitching that I was missing Saturday morning cartoons and flitting about and getting in trouble until my parents decided they’d had enough of dragging me to class.  Deborah said she knew that I had dance experience, one can just tell, and that obviously those lessons had stayed with me.  Riiiight.

I didn’t stick with Pilates, it really is challenging for the ample girl to keep her legs up in the air all the time, but I am glad I went and that I was able to teach the teacher that fat chicks can have grace too.

– the Goddess

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One response to “Pilates Lates Bo Blates, Banana Fana Fo Folates, Fee Fi Mo Mates, Pilates!

  1. Sarah C says:

    Good for you! I can’t believe she would have such an attitude with you right off the bat, though – how does she know what you are capable of? In my classes, I encourage the different levels to do what they can, but I would NEVER tell someone they can’t do something without any idea about their background (they’re probably nervous enough just being new). Props for proving yourself a star pupil 😉

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