In just over 24 hours I will be on an aeroplane on my way to Los Angeles. In addition to keeping everyone up to date with my adventures overseas I thought I should start at the very beginning... what made me enter this contest in the first place? This was actually my second time entering the contest, I also entered in 2015. At that time I was going through a period of fairly intense anxiety. Imposter syndrome was at an all time high and I felt quite paralysed in any attempt to create any forward movement in my Pilates career. I started seeing a psychologist and in a move that surprised both her and I, I decided to enter the 2015 Pilates Anytime Contest. As my self-confidence started to grow I felt that really putting myself out there in front of my peers would be a major step forward for me. That year I didn't make the top ten. As a pretty self-critical person I was surprised to discover that I was actually still quite proud of myself. The process of recording and sharing what I do each do each day was so confronting that simply going through the process was hugely rewarding.
Part of the assessment process for the Australian Polestar Pilates mat and studio course is to record yourself teaching and complete a self critique. When the 2017 Pilates Anytime Contest was announced I reflected on my previous experience and how gratifying it was. I thought that I should go through the process again. I could speak of my experience recording myself to the students that I mentor.
This time it would be different though. After submitting my video in 2015, my very good friend Carrie gave me the following feedback: "It was good, but I was wondering where JoJo was. You didn't seem like yourself". When I reflected on this Carrie was absolutely right. I didn’t seem like myself because I wasn’t present. I wasn’t teaching the person, I was teaching the exercises. I was so nervous that there wasn't any room for my personality. I was too busy comparing myself to others- a reflection on where I was at as a person at the time I guess.
Recording in my own studio seemed to make things more comfortable. With the help of Dani who donated her time to be my body on the mat and my ever supportive husband Ben, I managed to cast the nerves away and record MYSELF. I didn't watch any other entries, I didn't over plan, I just tried to do what I do every day. My goal is to make the Pilates movements make sense for the person in front of me, not just their body but their whole person. I had fun!
When I received an email from Gia from Pilates Anytime I was actually at a Polestar course weekend. I opened it thinking that it would be a repeat of the 2015 email but to my surprise and delight...
We are so pleased to inform you that you have been selected to be a potential finalist in the 2017 Next Pilates Anytime Competition.
I am pretty sure I could feel my pupils dilate at that moment. My palms were sweating and the room was a blur. A finalist? What? I had to read it over and over to make sure I wasn't making anything up! After speaking to Gia, the next step was simple just a bit of self promotion. Not exactly my strong point. I signed up for self-growth and here it was presented to me on a silver platter S E L F P R O M O T I O N. Looking for ways to get an introvert out of their comfort zone? Try social media!
If I was going to do this I was going all in. Here am I Pilates world, warts and all! Here's my eclectic taste in music, here are my ridiculous dance moves on the Pilates equipment, here I am teaching, here I am putting myself out there and asking for you to believe in me while I do the same...
And then it happened. On my birthday. Gobsmacked.
Once the voting had closed I proceeded to teach the worst two and a half hours of Pilates ever. I was the most distracted teacher I had ever been. Thank you to my gorgeous, very understanding clients for not giving me a slap.
The ride so far has been amazing. The support not only from my friends and family but also the other finalists and the Pilates community worldwide has been beautiful.
I have read comments saying that this contest has the potential to be divisive, that we shouldn't be competing with each other. Of all the things that I am passionate about, creating community within the Pilates industry is paramount. I am so happy to say that the experience so far has been the total opposite of divisive. The sense of community that this contest has made me feel is wonderful. I can't wait to meet the other finalists at the PMA conference and thank them for being part of this with me. I agree, we shouldn't be competing with each other but for me this wasn't about competing with others it was about challenging myself.
So, next time I tap away on this keyboard will be in Los Angeles. I'll have two days there before making my way to the Santa Barbara area to film my two classes. I'm nervous but in a good way. I'm excited for the next chapter!