On the Occasions for Humility

One of the most interesting things I’ve discovered from running a studio is how…highly localized fitness ability can be.

The realization was particularly acute today, starting with observations shared by triathletes who attended a morning Pilates for Athletes workshop (all of them easily distinguished by the fact that they wore cycling shorts).

“We were massacred,” one of them told me while shaking his head in resigned embarrassment. “I thought I was pretty fit, but now I have muscles hurting that I didn’t even know existed.”

(From there, the conversation shifted to how important it is to correct your form as a swimmer, where the best places to put a mirror in a pool could be and how Michael Phelps has multi-jointed knees and shins.)

The observations were confirmed later in the afternoon, when upon leaving the office, I found a 23-year-old arnis practitioner who had just come from his first yoga class seated glumly on one of the benches.

“What happened to you?” I asked him.

“I just got my ego whipped,” he told me morosely. “I’ve been doing martial arts my whole life. I’ve got pretty strong core muscles and decent flexibility—this yoga class should have been a walk in the park.”

I laughed. “Welcome to the club,” I said.

Because the thing is, as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, fitness ability seems to be peculiarly localized. As an Ashtanga Yoga practitioner, I’ve also had my fair share of hubris about my physical ability—until encounters with Plana Forma and T’ai Chi reminded me about how much I still have to learn.

Which, I suppose, is the beauty of occasionally taking classes in disciplines besides one’s own. It’s one of the best possible ways to remember how far (always) we have yet to go.

Which, I think, was the same thing my newly-made friend, the arnis practitioner, realized.

“This yoga thing is a lot harder than I thought.” He paused. “I think I’m coming back next week.”


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