For over three months I didn’t post. My Pilates teaching continued, as well as my thinking about teaching. I would ask myself questions. Is there a modification to make this movement more accessible? Is this the right moment to add in a more challenging variation? But as I focused on other writing projects, work on the blog halted. And I missed it. I missed writing the blogs. I also missed the feedback I received from the blogs.
I was used to responses such as this: ‘I am enjoying your blogs. It’s like a private letter to me.’ Or ‘I look forward to Wednesday mornings and your blog. Your passion comes through and I get inspiration to keep up my classes.” Instead, I was receiving a different sort of email: “Is something wrong? Did I get accidentally unsubscribed?”
Not posting for three months made me reflect on why I began the blog in the first place. In March 2020 I attended the Spring Writers Retreat at the Banff Center for the Arts, and even though the two weeks were evenly sliced in half by the pandemic (when we were all sent home), at the retreat I had entertained a brand-new idea: trying my hand at a blog.
Over the years I had attempted playwriting, short stories, and fiction, but what created the most traction (feedback, travel opportunities, satisfaction, royalties) was my non-fiction work, especially the three Pilates books I had written much earlier on in my career. What I loved about doing those books (beside the pride that they were translated into five different languages) were the stories of real people that framed each chapter. One story was about a woman who fought her way back from a back injury; another, about a Russian friend who survived a serious hip fracture and a delayed recovery. My own story found its way into the books: how I used physical activity to manage my hyperactivity and mood swings. Writing those stories felt creative for me. Perhaps I could approach the blog in the same way.
I returned from the magic of the mountains to the reality of Toronto through a series of cancelled and rerouted flights. The pandemic was now in full swing. My studio was shuttered and I had no idea when it would open. In fact, my studio never opened again; over the next months I slipped in there like a thief to roll up and remove mats, give away weights, and fold up resistance bands. The final things to go were the large balls—I hung onto those until the last possible moment. What was I waiting for? Some federal health minister or Doug Ford himself to call a news conference to say the severity of the pandemic had been exaggerated and we were in the clear? But there was no reprieve. I did not renew my lease, and the lovely champagne-coloured balls I had shipped in from Italy had to be deflated. The only way to deflate 14 balls by myself was lie belly-down across the top of each ball, and let the full weight of my body slowly squeeze out the air. An era is over, said one student when I told him I was closing the studio. And as I kneaded the last bit of air from each ball, his words rang true.
My situation was not at all dire, as compared to so many others. My health was not compromised. Nor was I facing financial ruin. I learned how to teach Pilates online and, huddled at home, I had time to explore the idea I’d had at Banff about trying a blog. By September 2020, I came up with an overall title: Adapting Pilates for our Longer Lives.
A blog felt right. It would not only be a way to connect with the students I could no longer see in person, but also a chance to do a deep dive into certain exercises and fitness topics. For the last few years, I had become very interested in the ageing process and I wanted to explore the emotional component to ageing not just the physical side. And the blogposts didn’t need to be primarily about Pilates. There would be a place for inspirational stories and wake up calls, as well as research about fitness and healthy ageing.
I loved the fact that each blog was automatically archived on my website and not buried in a desk file never to be retrieved. Readers, or myself, could at any time click on the blog tab to find all the previous postings complete with illustrations and photos, and the short videos that accompanied some blogposts.
Today, what I most love about the blog is its flexibility: I can post when I want. Some weeks, or months, might pass and my readers will hear nothing. At this stage in my life, I don’t need any more anxiety-producing deadlines; although when possible, I’ll try to give notice of these breaks. However, I always enjoy hearing from you. I love it when readers send me feedback or new topic ideas, or stories of their own challenges and triumphs. Let’s keep up the conversation.
Next week’s blog will focus on how fitness levels have changed with the pandemic and will feature two workouts (one basic, one Intermediate) to help us get back into shape.