A body is a body is a body but we are socialised from a young age that our body should look a very particular way. In the West for women that’s usually long legs, trim waist, flat stomach, big boobs and dainty features. For men, you need to be muscular, hairless (not on top though) and tall. A perfection which changes with each generation to another idea of ‘the perfect body’. With such narrow definitions of the ‘right’ way to have a body, most bodies will fall short of this and ultimately many people are left feeling not good enough, at war with their body and like they need to change.
All bodies deserve love. No matter what shape, size, colour, ability.
As a Pilates teacher I see a lot of people boasting of the ‘Pilates body’ which is apparently achieved through Pilates exercises coupled with a health lifestyle. This body is invariably long, lean, slim and usually blonde. Well I call bullsh*t. The Pilates body is EVERY body. Nearly everyone can benefit from some form of Pilates and selling the hope of a perfect Pilates body just compounds the pressures created by the fitness industry to workout to look acceptable. Exercise should be done because it both feels good and makes your body function well. It should not be done under duress because you have eaten too much, you don’t have the right size thighs or because your instagram feed makes you feel like crap.
While I do believe Pilates can do wonders for your body, these wonders are improved posture, improved core engagement and joint mobility. Moving better has allowed me to breathe better which in turn has allowed otherwise tight muscles to relax enabling me to feel less stressed. Having better posture has led to less day-to-day pain and reduced injuries. Pilates has helped me move with more freedom and this has led to HUGE psychological benefits. And yes, my body does look a bit more acceptable but this is a side effect not the end game. Being long, lean and beautiful is neither a prerequisite for exercise or a reasonable goal of exercise. Achieving a ‘perfect’ body is a meaningless pursuit and sadly can put people off doing a form of exercise which can provide them with so many benefits, many of which are for the mind not the body.
EVERY body is a Pilates body.
EVERY body deserves to be cared for.
EVERY body is beautiful just the way it is.
You deserve to feel good. So next time you eat too many biscuits and tell yourself you need to run 5 miles to make up for it, STOP. Fitness should not be a form of punishment. Next time you tell yourself you can’t go to yoga because you’re not flexible enough or Pilates isn’t for you because you’re not toned enough, STOP. You deserve to do the form of exercise you choose simple because you choose it. And if you choose no exercise, well that’s absolutely fine too. There is no ‘right’ body, there are just different bodies.