One of my very first teaching jobs was a beginner Pilates class at a tiny gym in the outskirts of Charlotte, NC. The class was held on Saturday mornings to accommodate working moms and I quickly gained a group of regulars despite being a nervous newbie instructor. The group was a far cry from the tight-bodied, chic, confident women I have so often encountered in my years of dance, Pilates, and barre. Ragged sweatpants and their husbands’ big t-shirts seemed to be their apparel of choice, oftentimes accompanied by a baseball cap pulled low over their faces as if they were trying to remain invisible for the hour-long workouts. It was obvious the weary group spent 99% of their time catering to their families and I’m not even entirely sure that they devoted the remaining 1% to themselves. Their baggy sweatpants couldn’t hide the years of missed workouts and poor eating habits.
Despite this, they caught on to Pilates quickly and I was amazed at their progress and dedication to the class. Little by little, I noticed subtle changes in their dress. The t-shirts were replaced by tank tops, the hats by headbands and ponytails, the once bare faces showed signs of mascara. I’m pretty sure the nearby Goodwill gained several pairs of giant gray sweats. I noticed the biggest change when I walked into the studio after the holidays and was greeted by 15 women covered in brand new workout apparel with giant grins on their faces. It became very apparent that the classes were giving them a brand new way to look at life and their new apparel was giving them the confidence they needed to step out of their shells. I added new exercises weekly to keep up with their incredible progress.
The message behind this story isn’t to run out and replace all your tired gym clothes; it’s to take the time to convince that tired, overworked individual in our lives that they are worth taking care of. Oftentimes the struggle is not as obvious as the situation I was presented with, but I guarantee you a person exists in your life that just needs some encouragement. You will see, that when they finally do go out and purchase their first pair of fitted black workout pants, the change in them will be evident. And when that happens, be sure to tell them how fabulous they look because it’s a sure sign they are on the right track!
AUTHOR: Kaitlin Vandura