Archives For dangerous exercise

As may have been previously mentioned: It’s really safe.

I’m slightly disappointed to be revisiting this subject quite so soon, yet a couple of tales that I’ve heard recently of people ‘being injured’ in Pilates classes finds me dragged back to the subject. Paraphrasing a quote I’d noted down in relation to writing on another subject: “Pilates is not dangerous. Poor teaching is dangerous; poor movement is dangerous; ego is dangerous.” I can’t answer for how many people are out in the world calling themselves Pilates teachers and making poor/irresponsible decisions that may put their clients at risk – yet I suspect (and hope) that there aren’t very many. (Teaching that is less than entirely effective is, I suspect, very much more likely than teaching that is dangerous).

Injury: physical damage, or hurt (according to my dictionary). In what context might one be injured? I’d suggest a number of ways, such as: mishandling equipment, or being caught in the way of someone else mishandling equipment; collision with, or assault, or even ‘adjustment’ by someone else; continuing with an activity that your body/brain is signalling you should stop; failing to understand, or follow instructions that are given to you.

I like to attend a weekly intermediate/advanced level yoga class. When I started I had only limited experience but I’d heard good things about the class, and the timing suited me. So the first thing that I did was tell the teacher about my yoga experience, and ask his permission to attend the class. If I try to do a full backbend, and push through something that doesn’t feel right, it’s entirely my responsibility. If I attempt a handstand without properly watching the demonstration because I think I already know it all, and then strain my shoulder, it’s inaccurate to say that  I’ve been injured in a yoga class, it’s my ego and poor practice that has caused the injury.

By the same token, to say “I injured myself in a Pilates class” carries with it the implication that Pilates was somehow responsible for the injury. Were you assaulted by the teacher? Did a classmate drop some equipment on you? Could it be more likely that your ego persuaded you to take on a movement that you weren’t ready for? Or that you did something (through lack of concentration, or poor understanding, or misplaced zeal) other than that which you were advised to do?

I think I may have written this previously – I don’t believe it’s possible to hurt yourself doing Pilates. It’s the not-doing-Pilates that carries a risk, especially if you’re in a Pilates class.

There are probably as many explanations for what Pilates teaches as there are teachers, or practitioners. One of my favourites is personal responsibility. In affecting the way that our clients relate to their own physical selves, I hope that we can teach them that their health is something that they are in charge of. There may be an array of medical professionals and therapists who can help us to manage our health, but in the end, only we are responsible for our own bodies.