A couple of months ago I bought a nice shirt for my boyfriend. I handed over a wodge of notes and made my usual "joke": "I'm not a drug dealer, honest, I'm a Pilates teacher," (The cop shop is just up the road; you can't be too careful).
The sales assistant looked at me very seriously (that's how loltastic my gags are) and asked, "Do you think I could do Pilates?" I immediately replied that of course she could. I have taught such a wide range of ages, abilities and sizes over the years and my training was so inclusive and wide-ranging that I know Pilates is for every body and so do all my colleagues and anyone who regularly attends a class.
Almost apologetically and quite nervously she told me she was old (in her sixties - not old!) and that she had arthritis (like many moderately active people from their 30's onwards). I reassured her and gave her as much positive information and encouragement as I could.
As I was heading home I realised the reason for her uncertainty and insecurity. It's partly down to pictures like the one on the left. Acres of print, real and virtual, have been spilt dealing with the subject of women's body image so I'll be brief. I just don't think this kind of thing helps. In fact a regular client at one of the studios in which I teach came up to my colleague and I, brandishing this magazine and semi-seriously asked, "talk me through this,"
If someone feels they look great as a result of regular Pilates, that's awesome. Honestly. However,those of us in a position to encourage and educate the public about what we do, need to understand this kind of thing will actually put a lot of people off if they believe everyone else in class will look like Denise Richards or that having a body like hers is expected. Magazines and studios would be far better off telling people how great they'll feel and what their body will be able to do, rather than how it looks. For me, that's much more exciting.