I was witness to the downside of social media yesterday. I follow a marvellous instructor based in NYC on Instagram. She demonstrated a pretty challenging move on the Reformer with beautiful form and control and shared the film on her Instagram account. In came a flood of comments about how great she looked - personally, my right scapula would have been poking out a treat rather than hugging my rib cage. I may also have been a bit twisted in the pelvis with my dicky hip - but nothing like that here...hence why instructors and Pilates students from across the globe liked her post and left comments of praise.
Except one. One Pilates instructor told my NYC instructor she should lose some weight. A Pilates instructor...told another Pilates instructor...to lose some weight.
The community leaped to defend the instructor in question and she quite rightly defended herself too.
Regardless of what weight a person should be and regardless of whether we have the right to say such things to people and regardless of whether social media is a good or a bad thing...this was said by someone who has chosen as her career to work with people and to help them fix themselves.
Being a Pilates instructor, we have the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life. Every now and again someone will walk in who is pretty much perfection structurally and aesthetically and they simply want to maintain that perfection. More often than not however, they arrive with us either a little, or completely broken in body and sometimes also broken in spirit. We become their safe place where they should not feel judged, but should feel protected and nurtured while we enjoy educating them to make their bodies stronger, their movement patterns more stable and hopefully leaving feeling good not only physically, but happier, brighter, lighter.
What I'm also wondering, as a Pilates instructor, is how another one of me can think that weight can be commented on, but an instability might not be. For instance, I have seen fit, lean, toned individuals with the most shocking shoulder stability - the most unstable of which was an international athlete. Because this person fits the 'ideal' aesthetically, is that better and more commendable than someone who is super strong and in control of their body, but may not be athletic 'perfection'? I wonder whether the instructor that decided to throw the insult would have said anything at all had she been 8 stone with a body fat percentage of 12, but showed lack of form. I doubt not.
So this is a multi-faceted set of mutterings. Firstly, I am so ashamed that someone from the Pilates community felt it was ok to tell someone to lose weight and was also cowardly enough to do it from behind the screen that is social media. Secondly, that she felt that what she perceives as her ideal aesthetic took away from how good the execution of that particular Reformer exercise was. What is this instructor hoping to get from teaching Pilates and practising Pilates herself and what is she wanting for her clients? It somewhat calls in to question the quality of what she is offering as an instructor.
Finally, I must just say that if you ever go in to a Pilates studio and an instructor makes you feel judged for the way you look...run for the hills and find another studio. Because as a human being and as a Pilates instructor, I think it is unacceptable behaviour and while we continue to tolerate such attitudes in others, we're just allowing it to perpetuate and things will never improve.
Right, going to hop off my soap box now and have a cup of tea to calm me down...this is why I didn't write this post yesterday as I was so wound up I feared I may end up being a bit rude which wouldn't achieve anything. Instead I am still annoyed, but am focusing on this brilliant instructor and what fun she brings to the Pilates community instead and doing my little bit to say thank you to her for her lovely demos, spot-on attitude to the method and videos of 80s Fame star Leroy and friends that make me smile on a very regular basis!