Updated: Feb 20
This weekend, I had the opportunity to present at the Pilates Method Alliance conference in Las Vegas. To say I was overstimulated would be an understatement. Not only did I get to present but I was also a part of the John Garey TV booth. And, while I was not on the strip this time (thank God), I did get to see the show 'O." And yet, my heart was still unsettled. Mostly because I was thinking about her.
I was 23 years old in my first semester of graduate school, working a full time and a part time job, headed towards divorce with an almost one year son still grieving the son I had lost the year before. I was not active. I was even thinking about being active. I was thinking about surviving. Stress was high and money was tight. During my first year of undergraduate I was a member of Tennessee State Dance Ensemble Experience but it was the last consistent thing I had done as far as movement was concerned. I think I remember going to step class at some point because I remember my friend Trice and I moving around that step doing our own thing like we were dancing to Chicago house music. I don't even remember if I had a membership to a gym (you know, the ones you pay for even if you don't go because you signed the two year contract) or if I had went as someone's guest.
What I know was that I was unaware of my body and distanced from any part of myself that would dance. Dance was the only thing I knew. I was far away from my days of double dutch and running in the neighborhood. I had never played an organized sport and had never had weight challenges until I quit the Dance Ensemble. I knew nothing about weights, jogging and had only sort of heard of yoga but never did it for real. I certainly had never even heard of Pilates. I was one of the people that health and wellness professionals love to talk about on social media; the type who doesn't want it bad enough because I didn't make my health a priority.
What if I didn't know how to take care of myself and my health had never been a priority and I didn't know where to start or what to do and I was trying to pay my bills and not die from the stress so I could be there for my baby. I was trying to not fail my first semester of classes (which I did) and figure out what to do with my breasts that had gotten to be a 43 DDD (possibly larger but I never knew to go get them measured) that were killing my back and were hard to contain because I couldn't afford a lot of the $30/$40 bras someone had told me about to keep them from pulling me forward to the ground. No one came to "educate" me, to offer me free classes. No one talked to me about my physical or mental health. I was sent to the doctor for anti-depressants (I was working for the State of Tennessee and had decent health insurance but $10 here and there for copays could have still kept me from having a full tank of gas).
No one came for me. No one came to help me. Perhaps people assumed I just didn't want the help. The truth is I was too busy dealing with the shame of not being able to go to lunch with my co-workers to go ask someone about something in which I wasn't familiar. "Exercise" was one of those things you do in gym class. I just wanted to not cry myself to sleep.
I didn't know what kind of help I needed.
As I review this weekend, I have to wonder whether anything that took place would have been helpful for the 97% of people in the United States (although we had several countries represented) who are not doing Pilates. Who spoke up for the people who hadn't made it to the room yet or who were trying to survive and just wanted to have the energy to make it to both jobs and class on time...
or have the energy to make it work and class at all?
My presentation was on racial and body bias in the Pilates community. Even in that, we haven't gotten to the socioeconomic part of it. Who's going back to share with the people who can't afford memberships or privates? And what if part of the issue is the lack of awareness that people like the 1998 Tasha even exist?
If the work is transformational, the movement, the systems, the physical and mental wellness that comes with learning how to do something we see as so valuable then why aren't we sharing it?
Well, we don't have to because 1998 Tasha may be someone we've never met.
But I've met her and because I know she exists, inside and outside of me and in my surroundings, I won't let
her down. And even if that "her" is one then I know I was willing to share what I had so we could all be better.
Side note: For everyone who rolled their eyes and thought to themselves about how walking is free and "everyone" can do it, please consider the safety of a person's neighborhood and lack of transportation to get them to a safe place to walk which takes up more time than someone who works multiple jobs just to keep the lights has to spare. What good is learning spinal alignment if you don't have lights and hot water?
I have more work to do than brush up my powerpoint for the next conference.
I accept the responsibility of the work.
1998 Tasha, I'm sorry. I really am. I'm coming back for you. You have my word.