Enhancing the Learning Curve: The Power of Journaling for Independent Pilates Workouts
I saw a comment and question on a post for an article I wrote recently asking me, “if I say that I learn something new every day, what did I learn today?” And while I haven’t started tracking this yet for truly acknowledging every single one of my daily Ah-ha moments, it’s got me thinking about how powerful paying attention to this can be as a tool for exercise tracking and our wellness success.
Learning something new can apply to more than just Pilates training. But Pilates is a great place to connect-the-dots and tap into the power of awareness for the brain-body connection of realizing that we’ve learned something new.
The same exercise you’ve done over, and over again during your Pilates workouts can feel different. You can discover new bits of information about how your body moves, how the exercise feels, what muscles are working, what muscles need to let go, how the breath functions to support you…so many ways to tweak, fine-tune, modify, and challenge yourself. Each of these is an opportunity to “learn something new.”
As a Pilates student, we learn LOTS from our mentors and teachers. Taking private sessions, participating in group classes, we have the opportunity to absorb information that is gifted to us by our instructor. Not only do we process verbal cues, but we also glean understanding through visual and hand-on training techniques. Having a great teacher to study with is only one path for learning, and while it’s an important one, there is so much more we can learn from ourselves if we’re open to paying attention.
If you read Return to Life, by Joseph Pilates, his dream was that every person that utilized his system of exercise would faithfully do their exercises at least 4 days a week. (I believe any exercise program we participate in – or a combination of programs for “cross-training” should be done at least 4 days a week.) Our bodies were made to MOVE, and Joe understood that. Are you doing Pilates 4 days a week? Or, if not Pilates, are you getting at least 4 of some type of workout in a week? Do you only do Pilates with a teacher? Why, or why, not put yourself through your own workouts at least one or two days a week?
A powerful way to ensure that you’re learning something new every day is to tune-in and pay attention to your body and what you’re doing. The best way to do this is to work out on your own!
Independent training forces you to pay attention to yourself. You might still hear your favorite teacher in your head, helping you tick through the things you know you need to pay attention to, but that’s fabulous because it means that you’re processing the information you’ve learned and can apply it to yourself without outside influence.
I had a client years ago, and every session was like the movie “Ground Hog Day.” We’d get started and it was like he’d never been on a Reformer a day in his life, and doing Mat exercises wasn’t any better. In complete and utter frustration (after YEARS) of putting up with this, and feeling like progress was never going to be an option, I was ready to fire my first client, but instead I blurted out, “You realize that Pilates is a MIND-BODY activity. You’re not only supposed to pay attention to what your body is doing, but you should also know the names of and the order of the exercises in your workout.” It was like the red sea parted and a light from above shined down on us. His first reply, “but I exercise so I don’t have to think.” And you know, I could see that in his functional movement habits.
And what happened next was even more impressive… He brought a little notebook into the studio and wrote every exercise down – the name, equipment set up, breathing patterns, how-to execute, and little tips and things he wanted to remember. Then he went home and actually studied his notes! The exercises he could do at home, he started doing because he had a little “cheat-sheet” to follow with cues in his own writing and own words that sparked a few brain cells to know what to practice.
Even though he hasn’t worked with me in years – I know that the time we spent together has left a lasting impression on his health and fitness program, as well as his ability to think, document, and practice exercise tracking.
ALL of the clients that I’ve worked with who have brought in their notebooks and taken the time to jot things down, seem to be more inspired to work independently, and as a result progress faster to reach their fitness goals. Perhaps your Pilates teacher might think you’re nuts, or that you’re wasting time to take a few valuable minutes out of your session for note taking…but how many times do you hear during a class or workout, “this is a great thing you can practice at home on your own,” and by the time you’re done with class you have no idea what that “thing” was because you learned so many other things during the hour!
And you know, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a Pilates student, or teacher. Exercise tracking to journal what you do, or journal what you discover through teaching… your written insights will be priceless to improving your health and if you teach, help you become even more effective with exercise choices and cues to help others.
All day long we are constantly bombarded by information. During Pilates we’re bombarded by the bazillion things to pay attention to for our own body to move well. How in the heck can we be expected to remember and retain all this information, much less actually acknowledge that we’ve learned something new. If we’re lucky we remember it for a few minutes, an hour, maybe a day or two – then as more and more information floods into our system those important “gems” of new stuff we acquired a few days ago become sadly forgotten. But write things down, and they’re yours to revisit, practice, and play with to refresh your brain, body, and re-energize your workouts for life!
You may find it helpful to journal new exercises, modifications or adaptations that are just for you, how exercises feel in your body, how you can apply an exercise to other daily life habits…. Track what seems important to you, and use it to help keep you on track for independent exploration and discovery for a healthy, happy, active YOU.
Every day, each of us has the opportunity to learn, practice, and develop skills to improve our life, health, and brain-body connection. Utilizing our memory is a great skill, but exercise tracking and journaling what’s important can play a key role in helping you retain and reinforce the connections.
Enhance your learning curve. Get a notebook and start keeping track of the Ah-ha moments, exercises, and important brain-body connections you’re discovering during your workouts so you can be reminded, and hopefully encouraged, to take charge of your training program and incorporate at least one or two independent workouts into your weekly training routine.
Interested in tracking 5 years of Fitness? Keep a snapshot of your weekly workouts in one spot. Snag a copy of the Be-Fit Journal and plan on using this simple tracking strategy to see your dedication and consistency to a healthier you. Get your New Year’s workouts off to a great start to get fit and Be-Fit!