by Carrie Smith
He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.
- Albert Einstein
Whoa … a strong statement indeed!! We all know what Mr. Einstein meant by E=mc2 (I think) but what did the brilliant Mr. Einstein mean by this statement? Why would he say it? And, more importantly for us – and this blog – what does that have to do with Pilates?
Have you ever met someone who, as Einstein put it, was “given a large brain by mistake”? The sort of person who marches “in rank and file” in whatever field they work; following the rules, doing whatever it takes to just get by and, of course, not asking questions … heaven forbid! To ask a question means you are thinking; it may also take bit of courage to “challenge” an authority figure, whether it’s a boss, a politician, a workshop presenter or even a Pilates instructor.
Of course, there’s no need to start an argument for no reason or to be rude, but how often do we just “let it go” when we don’t understand something, explaining ourselves by saying things such as “it’s a stupid question” or “I didn’t know what she meant” or, my favorite, “I didn’t think they had an answer for my question”.
In the world of Pilates, we have (or should have) continual questions: Why am I doing this exercise? What should I be feeling? What muscles should be working? What if my back hurts? What movement should I choose next? Why would I do that exercise next?
Whether you gather your information in workshops, on the internet, in weekly classes or somewhere else, ASK those questions! Don’t just march in rank and file, doing something because it’s in the latest magazine – “this exercise will make you lose 2 inches off your waist” – or a presenter said you must follow a certain order of movements “because I said so.” (Sorry Mom, that was always a poor answer.)
There may be very valid reasons why the magazine and presenter say those things, but if they don’t tell you, you must use your large brain (which isn’t a mistake, I hope) and ask WHY?
Here is a good example (true story):
I had a Pilates instructor come for a private lesson a few years back. As we were going over several exercises from the Mat Work, I asked her why she would give a certain exercise to a student or class. The blank look on her face said it all; she had no idea why. So I said “remember what you learned in your training … why are you doing this movement?” Another blank stare, and then the answer. “We didn’t learn any of that”.
I know very little about the training course she attended (of course you all know it was NOT BASI), but I thought to myself “I can’t fault the course. Why did you not ask any questions? Surely, (insert the smiley face) the teaching instructor of the course would be able to answer your questions?” (Insert another smiley face if you’re a cynic.)
It was her own fault. Why didn’t she ask those questions? Surely $4000 should buy her a bit more than just choreography? Maybe I should have said “Were you given a large brain by mistake?” (Not recommending you use that!)
So, to students, instructors, everyone! Think when you attend workshops/classes/courses; ask questions. And, yes, even challenge (nicely) workshop presenters. Make Albert Einstein proud and use the “large” brain you were given (by no mistake) … don’t let that spinal cord suffice!