Slow Down & Think Pilates

One thing I say to myself on a daily basis is, “slow down, breathe, and where is the closest Pilates class?”

Living in Los Angeles or any big city for that matter, we all know the daily hustle of life. We’re constantly moving, trying to get to the next place or alternatively sitting in traffic wishing you were anywhere but there. When it really comes down to it, what motivates you to keep up with the day-to-day grind?

I was just like everyone else 10 years ago, trying to figure out what I was doing with my life and ultimately where I wanted to be. I was looking for something to motivate me and create the best version of myself. It took 26 years to find my true passion- teaching and practicing Pilates. Even though that might seem like a long time, the clarity, confidence, and drive I have now from Pilates was well worth the wait. I wouldn’t be who I am without it.

Growing up I was always an active kid-riding bikes in my neighborhood, running around the schoolyard for no particular reason, just doing what kids do. Throughout school I played competitive soccer and when I graduated college I continued to play on a rec team until, like most, I ended up at the gym. How did I get here? I’d ask myself while performing mindless exercises that I really didn’t connect to. I thought if I could just stay on this Elliptical for 2 hours and do 30 minutes of “ab work” I’d be in the best shape of my life.  However, that was not the case. I knew I needed something else, something that was just as rewarding physically and mentally as soccer, but as I was getting older I simply couldn’t keep up these intense workouts. Not to mention who really loves cardio??? I was determined to find another workout that encompassed more than just lifting a weight 10 times, doing a ton of cardio, and being on the latest fad diet.

Studio interiorAfter months of complaining to my friends and coworkers about how I couldn’t find a workout that worked, I overheard a break room conversation about this thing called Pilates, that used some sort of apparatus called the reformer.  When I got home that night I immediately looked it up and said to myself, “What the heck is that?” It was the strangest piece of equipment I’d ever seen! Not to mention the exercises being performed on it! The next day I called my friend who I knew owned a studio and she told me everything I needed to know about Pilates and pleaded me to come for a class. After much persuasion, I eventually gave in and went.

After one Pilates class I knew this practice was everything I wanted for and from my life. It was one of the most invigorating, stimulating and powerful workouts I had ever done.  It’s about so much more than having long, lean muscles and looking fabulous, yes that’s a perk, but it’s about harmonizing your mind, body and soul. The concentration and methodology it takes to train in this form of intelligent exercise is re-energizing, allowing you to face those daily ups and downs with confidence.

For me, I had found my way back to the reward of exercise, where I felt like I could rule the world afterwards. Pilates allowed me to take more control over my life, kept me grounded through the tail end of my 20s, which is huge in itself, and I found the motivation that pushed me further. I continued my Pilates practice for another year before I went and got certified, challenging myself to find out what my intention was.

Not everything in life needs to be a race to the finish line. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding a workout that can calm any mood. My search for a way to challenge my body and mind has allowed me to live a fulfilling life where I can practice and teach what I love. I challenge you, the reader, to really think about what gives you intent and happiness and make that a priority. And if you haven’t found that thing yet, just breathe; take a moment for yourself, and maybe next time you do take that Pilates class.

I can’t wait to share the next in my series of blogs, which takes you into Pilates studio ownership and how I booked myself solid in a short 9 month span of time!

Ashlee Carignan

About Ashlee Carignan

My Pilates career began 10 years ago when I completed an intense certification program of the Ivan Dahl Method. I was quickly addicted to the practices of Pilates and became excited by the idea of building a career centered on teaching people Joseph’s theory of complete coordination between the body, mind, and spirit. It’s been nothing short of a gift to work with men and women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds on their physical, mental and emotional transformations. Empowering individuals through Pilates is my calling, my passion, and truly a gift. To show someone what the body is capable of through focus and perseverance, has allowed my clients to align their mind with their body and fully realize what they are capable of. Pilates isn’t just about being long and lean, it’s about perfecting the mind, body, and soul — and that’s Pilates With Ashlee’s mission. Web: Instagram: @pilateswithashlee