Why I created Pilates for Dancers @ Bodies by Pilates!! I “Oh my god, look at you! You must be a dancer!” know it’s a compliment, but in a class where I was hoping to disappear into the wall and just worry about myself, it doesn’t really make life any easier.
In my opinion, group fitness as a professional dancer is a double-edged sword. I love it. I want it. I do it. But I run the risk of being singled out and ogled at. So sometimes, I don’t. Even though I should and I want to, I don’t because the stakes are already high enough everywhere else I turn, and sometimes, I just want to be able to move and work out and focus on my body without everyone else doing that too.
As a fitness instructor, I even catch myself sometimes pointing out the person who must have danced, or maybe it was gymnastics, but either way, you can see the training and it’s very, very tempting to use that body as an easy, moldable example for everyone to follow because chances are… that body will understand you. And if not, it’ll at least understand the corrections it’s given.
It’s a compliment…but sometimes, I don’t want to be complimented. Because when someone says “you must be a dancer,” most heads turn.
Ya know, for there being enough of us to make getting a job difficult, we’re still looked at like an “endangered species” by the general public. It’s an interesting phenomenon really…but we’ll save that discussion for another day.
And with all of those eyes on you, suddenly your workout, your safe space to address the body you beat up on a daily basis, becomes no different than any audition. There is a pressure to live up to what being a dancer means. You better be right. Your form better be perfect. You double and triple check to make sure you’re sitting up straight while you can’t help but think “Good god, why did I wear this shirt today?”
And, maybe this is just a “me thing”, but I’ve got a list of injuries and ailments that could go on for days. I’ve trained myself to ignore them, or work on them, depending on my mood because I’m a dancer and that means I can dance with broken bones without letting anyone even know what’s happening because I am that tough!…and dumb. But also, if I admit to what’s going on, I have to look at all of the horrified and shocked faces in the room around me who thought I was a dancer. How could that be true if I’m also so messed up?
How nice would it be to feel the freedom to go into a class and respond to the teacher’s initial “Are there any injuries I should be aware of?” with “Well, yes, actually I have scoliosis and arthritis, which has just really messed with my spine and pelvis over the years and I know that I’m not actually aligned, but I’m going to try to pretend I am and fake good alignment so that you won’t come correct me because that’s all I’ve ever done so that people would hire me, but please don’t let me fool you. Come correct me because I really do need it”? Wouldn’t it be nice to just be honest about what we’ve done to ourselves and let someone help us out? Maybe there is hope for my spine. But if all I ever do is pretend nothing is wrong, for fear of not being “perfect,” how the heck am I supposed to get better?
In creating Pilates for Dancers, my hope is not to make an exclusive, cool, “on Wednesdays we wear pink” kind of group. Instead, I would much rather use it as a safe haven for all of my friends and coworkers who have struggled over the years. Whether your struggles are similar to the ones I face, or whether it’s something as simple as feeling like Pilates is scary for some reason, please, come in and give it a try. It isn’t scary. I promise. I want to show you. I want to be there to help in any way I can. And I want us to get to know each other when we aren’t in an audition trying to get the same job, or in a class fighting for the space to kick our legs. I want to give you all of the space to take a deep breath and give your body the hug that I’m sure it desperately needs. And if you can’t give it that hug just yet, okay. But let’s work together on it together so that one day you can.
(Now Another great Secret: We saved the best for last….Bodies by Pilates is offering these classes with a Budget in Mind! We want to make sure it is affordable and accessible by the dancing community so our main goal is just to cover our costs and help give back to NYC Dancing the community which is literally a big part of the Big Apple, talk to me we will design a package for you Deb Lemon)