Susan Cottrell is a Physiotherapist and graduate of the Polestar Pilates School. As the director of The Body Refinery and The Body Refinery Online, Susan is passionate about creating a non-intimidating environment where everyone can feel comfortable to learn to move well.
I first started comprehensive Pilates Training in 2007 when I was a 178cm tall, 90kg, fit and healthy woman with a background in physiotherapy. I have never been a small person, but I have always been active and quite comfortable in myself. However, when I turned up for the first day of the course and saw that all the other students were all about half my size with ballerina physiques, I had never felt more intimidated!
I had loved attending Pilates classes for many years prior to my teacher training, but after that first day of the course, I felt so out of place that I actually thought I wouldn’t bother turning up for the rest of the course. Needless to say, I persevered (because I hate quitting) and I completed the course. However, the intimidation I first felt at that course stayed with me for many years and it affected my teaching and participation in the Pilates and the Pilates community… but in a positive way.
A few years after my initial training, I had a client write to me about why she loved coming to my studio: “You were inspiring because you could move, but not intimidating because you were normal”. It wasn’t until I heard this that I realised I did have something to bring to the Pilates community and more importantly to my clients. Moving well is important for all people no matter your size or shape or motivation. I realized that I could foster an environment where people were comfortable to be themselves and restore their health through movement.
Pilates is associated very much with perfection – picture perfect movement and perfectly chiselled bodies. However, this image and perception mean that many people can feel too intimidated to set foot in a studio. Which is a great shame as everybody can benefit from the method. Yes, Pilates is for everybody! Having a bigger body size doesn’t prevent someone from being able to move well. Not being able to do a teaser in a perfect “v-shape” doesn’t mean you’re not doing it right.
I hope that by putting my practice out there I inspire bigger people to move. I am passionate about ensuring that all people can access the opportunity to learn to move well. Moving well will ultimately mean staying well and is fundamental for good health. As Joseph Pilates says “Change happens through movement, and movement heals”.
Joseph Pilates, in his book “Return to Life”, talks about having a healthy spine, breathing well, moving every day, getting out in the fresh air and sunshine and having a mind-body connection in your movement. He doesn’t talk about how good you should look in a crop top or the shape of your bottom. If you want to make the most of your life, learning to move well is a fundamental starting point. If going to your local Pilates studio seems too intimidating, there are a lot of online options that may be less confronting and may build your confidence to enter a studio down the track.
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Pilates is for everybody! Visit www.thebodyrefineryonline.com for some classes that will introduce you to and guide you through the Pilates method.