Why should you try virtual Pilates (or yoga, or movement or wellness) classes.
by Madison Page, CEO of Core to Coeur
Hi, my name is Madison, and I am a recovering in-person class taker. It’s nice to meet you.
For reasons described in this writing, attending in-person movement classes have always caused me great anxiety. I am an ex-professional dancer (recovering from that life too), a Pilates instructor, and what I would call, a chronic class taker. It was part of my physical and mental training as a dancer. Unlike other sports, dancers are season-less, we have to be training all year round. The expectations, especially for young classical dancers, to look and behave a certain way often yields devastating consequences in their later years, myself included. But if you are committed to your practice and your career, it’s just what you do. My parents and I spent so much money on dance classes that I could have purchased a house in Los Angeles in cash for the same amount by the time I enrolled in high school.
Why am I talking about this in a virtual training blog? Because you are probably also recovering from something too. Recovering from a physical ailment, recovering from living in a culture that demands burnout and working as a sole means for your survival. You might be recovering from a broken heart, from addiction. Or, living and recovering from a mental illness.
And I think live classes from home can help.
I learned last year, that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Not a passing, “Oh I’m having an OCD moment”, I was properly diagnosed by a psychologist through a series of diagnostic tests (for what it is worth— OCD is often a hidden disorder. Culturally, we think of people who perform types of external “checking”, or ritual, behavior: counting their steps, brushing their teeth multiple times in one sitting. For many of us however, it is internal and mental, and you can’t see it from the outside. A mental checking of thoughts that yield to great anxiety, and never feeling quite “right”).
Part of my disorder, I am sure, came to be because of my previous dance training; it laid the groundwork for my brain patterning. Checking my physical position, ensuring I looked good in the mirror. If I didn’t go to class, I would have a nagging, gnawing feeling like an emotional itch that I couldn’t scratch (I still unfortunately do, but getting better with treatment).
Through a series of moves to the Pacific Northwest to move in with my now fiancé and business partner, I had to face this disorder head on with a tough reality — no movement classes I enjoyed in Eugene were to be taken, and I did not have access to a Pilates studio. I started improv dancing in my room, but it did not suffice. It was just me alone with my thoughts. A gnawing sensation that could not be quelled.
Then, I started teaching Pilates online in 2017 and my world opened in a miraculous way. In the privacy of my own home, connecting to my students in the privacy of their homes, I was able to witness how many barriers surrounded a positive relationship to movement, dance, and of course my body. It was the unwelcoming studio or gym space, the feeling of exposure, the feeling of being watched. The long commutes across a city, only to have to turn around or wait out traffic in a place when you’re tired, lonely and broke and all you can afford is coffee. It’s the expense — gas plus the $15 - $25 price-point for each class. The comparison brain, the competition brain.
In teaching online, I saw my students improve in their study of Pilates. We were free to swear, explore our practice, take our time. My students benefitting from me also not being so correction-happy. As teachers, we often think that students just want to be corrected, as if it justifies the expense of class. Sometimes that’s true. Most times though, they need to move, and need the accountability of someone guiding them through it.
When Core to Coeur launched in January 2020, I was privileged to be able to take class with some of the most talented and knowledgable movement teachers from all over the country (and Canada!). I remember one Feldenkrais class, the sun was shining on my face in my bedroom, and I was completely free to explore movement according to my own pace. I was able to go to the kitchen and make lunch afterward. I was able to have a life.
Some people lament how much we have to be at home these days. In this time, while it has been difficult, my movement practice on Core to Coeur has been very healing. The access to movement from an instructor who really cares, who expects me to come to class when I sign up, encourages my fellow class takers to turn their camera off or on — these choices open up so much possibility. So much access. So much care. For stay at home moms who need their kids to be in the same room as them while they take yoga on mute. Or older folks who have never had classes directed specifically at aging boldly and pain free. To have that kind of dignity, that classes are designed to meet you — not a younger version of you, not a skinnier or happier or healthier version you — where you’re at. It’s the kind of classes that create possibility in our bodies, and I believe, ourselves. It opens us.
If you’ve felt like you have never felt accepted, appreciated, or connected in a movement class, I encourage you to try virtual training.
It just might introduce you, to you.