Kendall is one of our front desk administrators who came to us with a background in collegiate volleyball and a passion for fitness and proper form. Below she shares her experience with Pilates and her journey to meeting her body where it is and letting go of her “exercise ego”. 

I started playing competitive volleyball when I was sixteen years old. As a sophomore in high school I was given a training plan to follow that would prepare my body for Division 1 caliber volleyball. This training included upwards of 20 hours a week of practice along with weight lifting, agility work, and conditioning training. Everything I did was designed to help me get recruited and become the best collegiate volleyball player I could be. 

By the time I got to college I was well-versed in Olympic-style weight lifting and plyometric exercises. I performed hundreds of back squats, hang cleans, box jumps, and pull ups (okay, only a few “real” pull ups at a time). My body was used to the very specific exercises tailored to optimize volleyball performance and I felt very comfortable doing them. In some ways that was a good thing because I had a strong sense of what my body would feel like as I was performing those exercises. However, because it felt so comfortable I often went through them on “autopilot”. I was not mindful of the compensations I was making with my body or if I had any biomechanical discrepancies. This continuous repetitive motion, especially when structurally erroneous and with added load (heavy weights), made me susceptible to injury. 

Unfortunately, my volleyball career ended abruptly with a hip injury (as the result of constant pounding and overuse) and I found myself needing to re-learn how to be strong and healthy in my body. I was not prepared to navigate the ways movement felt different after surgery. My physical therapy office used Pilates as a form of rehabilitation so we started incorporating it into my rehab routine. I was not used to feeling weak, uncoordinated, or like I could not communicate with specific parts of my body. My ego was hurt! I let my frustration and lack of motivation to work through the process consume me and dreaded going to PT. I did not want to shake and struggle in Pilates classes. I was supposed to be a Division 1 athlete for Pete’s sake! Why could I not do a single roll-up?! 

After much internal protest I finally allowed myself to start moving again. It has been a humbling experience re-entering physical movement and trying out new forms of exercise. Each Friday during our administrators’ Pilates lesson with studio owner Susan Burns, I am humbled and reminded of the many opportunities for growth ahead (that’s a very positive way to say our Friday sessions kick my butt!). No longer do I feel like I have mastered the movement patterns needed to “ace” that hour long workout- each week I am pushed to communicate with my body in new ways through new movement patterns. It is certainly not always comfortable and my motivation to return the following week is often challenged, but I do notice I feel an evolving sense of comfort and control in my body. 

If you asked me today to perform the same exercises or lifts that I was doing while I was a collegiate athlete I would likely not be able to. I know that my vertical jump has decreased significantly and that I am nowhere near as fast as I was back then, but I am learning that is ‘okay’. Focusing on building strength to achieve those sport-specific outcomes does not serve me in the same ways it used to, and that is okay! For now I am working on mindfulness when I’m exercising….and mastering the roll-up!  

No matter how old you are or what your exercise/ movement history is, your body and its relationship to the space around you is constantly in flux. When we can let go of the fear we have around meeting our bodies where they are in that moment and allow ourselves to dive into a new learning process, we grant ourselves the freedom to explore and expand in our own skin. Here’s to shedding our exercise ego and diving head first into humbling new experiences!   

Interested in taking Kendall’s lead and diving into a new learning process? Check out our class schedule here!

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