With every year that ends another year begins. It was 2015 when I began contemplatively looking through health related programs. I was looking to add another layer to my understanding of what it means to be a healthy human in the millennial era. We rang in 2016 and I was still sorting through doula certifications, nutrition courses, the newest psychological studies, and university programs without having made a commitment. Too much choice will be the death of me. At some point, my indecision started to irk me as much as it had long irked everyone else. I returned to my center.

My personal wellness is grounded in meditating, eating good food, being around good people, and having a good workout. Years of yoga, cardio and weight training all conditioned me effectively but nothing provided me with the sound structural enhancement that pilates is design to provide for any body. I found that while the exercises on a reformer or during a mat class were at times challenging the comparison in advantages to other regimens left me with lasting results and benefits that far out-weigh a typical sweat session. Being excited about how quickly my core bundled around my organs, I wanted to spread this kind of physical and mental clarity and vitality to other people. To try pilates is to believe in it. I applied for Core Pilates NYC’s Full Comprehensive Apprentice Program and enrolled in the April 2017 course. I committed to myself.

What exactly did I expect from the program? From the information sessions and the orientation, I knew it would be a very thorough but concise 6 months. We would start with beginner exercises on the mat, reformer, chair and cadillac and follow this progression throughout intermediate system, then advanced system, followed by training in prenatal, props, and clients with injuries or special needs. It seemed like a lot of information to digest. Core Pilates Instructors are well sought after due to Core’s thoughtfully developed teacher training program. Knowing other people have successfully completed the program, and are now thriving as a result, is reassuring. Even so, any new challenge can be nerve jarring, so initially I reassured myself “I like a good value. I like being provided with all of the best tools, resources and information. I like knowing I have great teachers. The rest is up to me.”

Cut to: Intermediate Intensive Weekend Numero Uno,

The setting: A beautiful, large, loft-like space awash with sunlight and full of 15 pilates apprentices, 2 team leaders, and our teacher trainer for the weekend, Kim Villanueva, a serious mind bank of pilates information as Senior Teacher and Co-owner of Core Pilates NYC.

Having spent several intensive weekends and weekdays in the studio together, we are all familiar with one another.

At the opening of this particular weekend, we were asked to teach each other an exercise by taking our basic foundation of Beginner System pilates and segway that into Intermediate System, meaning make the exercises a bit tougher but don’t go full on into intermediate exercises yet. A bit of a “fly by the seat of your pants exercise” but simple enough. One by one we stood up and improv’d fun new variations to change up the exercises we already knew. Side note: Actors, you have an unfair advantage in this type of exercise!! As a Type A human, with zero mad lib nerves in my brain or body, this was serious work and the exact opposite of fun. I went up in front of the class and mentally walked myself through every choice and exercise OUT LOUD!! I could not get out of my head, fearing being wrong had me stressed to maximum levels. What happened afterwards? Was my massive fail at the exercise followed by my teacher and classmates pointing and taunting me? Did anyone throw farmers market tomatoes? Not at all. Kim sensed my discomfort, called me on it, eased my worries and I grew as a person. In that uncomfortable, I-totally-want-to-quit-I-am-never-doing-this-again moment I learned to take it a bit easier on myself, make a choice and commit! At best, you surprise yourself with a strike of genius. At worst, you laugh at how ridiculous and wrong you just were. If its a horror show, you cry but you always move on and the weekend continues to teach you more about movement, reforming bodies and about yourself.

A month and a half into the program, what are my impressions? Can I actually do this? I have had access to a wealth of pilates professionals very well versed in body awareness. My own mind body connection has expanded exponentially, I expected that much. What I didn’t expect was how nerve wracking getting up in front of a group of 10-20 people to teach seemingly simple exercises would be! I am not a shy person by any means, I can be a bit of a ham, I am self sufficient, confident and public speaking doesn’t keep me up at night. So why was I breaking out in a non exercise induced sweat before teaching a fellow classmate the hundred?!

Over the past few weekends of intensive trainings, I may have come up with an answer. My journey into pilates instructing started with the question: Where do I want to be at the end of this year? and the knowledge: The choices I make this year will lead me there. Simply put, I want to be good at this and I’ve stacked a ton of pressure on myself. I can only speak for myself but reinventing yourself, even if just by adding another layer to who I identify myself as, throws you off a bit mentally. During the initial intensives I felt a bit like an awkward preteen, unsure of myself in every way. Now that we’ve moved on and I’m gaining footing, I wouldn’t have had it develop in any other way. Being vulnerable and open to learning new things breeds character and creativity. If I hadn’t worked through some of the more uncomfortable “I don’t know how to teach this moments” I wouldn’t have a reference point of how to react (better) next time that feeling comes around.

My body is sore. I’m taking in a lot of new information. My days are longer. I have less free time as most of my hours are accounted for. I am getting what I signed up for. I am adding further depth to myself as a human. My muscles are gaining definition. My time is better spent and I’ve weeded out things that don’t feed me mentally or spiritually. As usual, I have returned to center with a new part of me to absorb. This year my meditation mantra has adapted to: The things you approach with ease, come easily. I want to do this, therefore I can do this. Currently, I AM this.