It's Good For The Body
“What is this one good for!?”
The body. It’s good for your body.
I remember hearing this (give or take) was how Joseph Pilates would answer those questions… or “Why am I doing this?” … to improve the body … and as a young instructor I recall questioning was this answer good enough?
What was the purpose of ____ exercise or that one? Why would I have a client roll up this way or roll up that way? Why? Why!?!?! WHY??? I needed some solid real answers … not generalizations. WTF he talkin’ ‘bout “good for the body!?”
So, I took more workshops. I read more. I studied more. I paid more. I taught more. And you know what I really learned in the past ten years (almost 17 years of working with the body) … nobody knows what they’re doing (like honestly no one). I mean, yeah, the more you explore something the clearer it gets. We can certainly spot what we’re NOT looking for in a movement, but to claim that THIS is how something works for sure is … just … not … true.
Science is not fact (yup, said it). Science is what is known to be most tried and true TODAY, and is often just a little less wrong than it was a couple years ago. Here are some things we just literally discovered in the last couple years: (A new quadricep muscle) / (lungs actually produce red blood cells) / and our (central nervous system has lymph glands). (So like no one in the history of leg surgery ever noticed that other muscle hanging around?) Then there are things that have just been edited out of our reality. Did you know that your skin actually breathes? No, not like it casually exchanges gases and such … but that (the cutaneous level of your skin literally uptakes oxygen) to survive (like a tree absorbing carbon dioxide). That tidbit has been around since 1851, but I think I’d recall that being taught in high school if it’d been.
Strangely, without all that info medicine has been prolonging lives for decades now. I’m hopeful that with more information treatment will improve … more.
Because I’m someone who gets paid to work with the body it’s my job to stay updated on things regarding the body. My style of work inspires what I choose to study, and what I choose to study in turn inspires my work. However, the morsels of information I gather do not make up The Work. Instead they serve my curiosity as launching and landing spots for exploration. If I learn this might be connected to that, it’s my job to create an environment for my client and I to explore those probable connections. My job is about the process of exploring (through movement) all the information I’ve gathered about the body, and how it relates to this person or that, and really all I have going for me is that I’ve spent a lot of time distinguishing what I’m NOT looking for (namely poopy movement).
We all wanna know, right!? We all want to be RIGHT, right!? The thing of it is it’s just not that important.
Movement Educators, if your clients find enough monetary and time value to show up to your session and pay for it … you’re doing the work RIGHT.
Movement Students, if you’re moving in ways that feel good to the body, and challenge you to be present and aware … you’re doing the work RIGHT.
Here’s why I teach the way I teach: I don’t often know what I’m doing (real talk). I know a lot of gestures (exercises, movements, stretches, blahblahblah) and I’ve worked with and watched a lot of bodies move (or not) within my Myofascial and Movement practices … so I know some stuff … but I don’t know why you can _____ and he can’t _____. There’s a lot of options and variables there. Maybe it’s a muscle, or ligament, or bone, or tendon (all of which are just some aspect of fascia) … maybe it’s a trauma (emotional / physical … all held in your fascia) …. maybe it’s a nervous system thing (governed by your fascia because that’s what houses the nerves, y’all). And when I say fascia I don’t mean it in the dissected way fascia is currently being discussed in movement science, but in the truest sense of fascia as a whole body connection part-to-part, inward-to-out, and vice versa. So, if we take what we know for sure (some gestures, movements, exercises) and using morsels of information that are probably true as jumping off points (generally those things that have guided you to teach the way you do - your style) apply it to what’s in front of us (a body … a person), the fact of the matter is that Joe Pilates wasn’t wrong or elusive, but honest … what you’re doing is “good for the body.”
All of the exercises you know are just possible movements that can enhance / challenge / intrigue your client to explore their body differently. In reality when you or your client want to know why to choose this exercise or that one, a good answer is simply … to see if you can. Why? Because it’s good for the body and mind (the person) to move in as many new and interesting ways as viable in search of enjoyable thought-provoking movement. It’s good to be challenged. It’s good to explore. It’s good to PLAY. A good session is often less about execution and more about ingenuity. Maybe next time instead of naming a muscle that “doesn’t work” within an exercise … on you or your client … pause and think about all those successful operations that went down without ever even noticing a quadricep muscle. Then, after your brain explodes, regroup and just see if you can intrigue movement to happen “there.” (Wherever there is). If you don’t have the tools it might just be time to learn something new … a new jumping off point, a new way to explore. It may just help that person … that BODY … clarify the why’s and what’s of movement on their own. Even better it might just help you, the teacher, discover why (on a deeper level) you’re doing this whole thing anyway.
by James Crader