FFC employee Caitlin Preminger shares her account of going through the FFC Pilates teacher training program, and what she learned along the way.
I detest running. It aggravates both my shins and my asthma and has only ever been inflicted on me against my will. I played a few years of soccer and basketball as a kid, but I’m not competitive and could never understand why I was supposed to care so much–win or lose, we were getting a pizza party at the end of the season. This did nothing to improve my attitude toward fitness; physical education in California public schools either meant running, which meant pain, or it meant organized sports, which utterly failed to impress me. I vividly remember my disdain for those who got emotionally invested in capture the flag and the shame of wearing my middle school PE shirt purple-side-out to indicate that I would be walking a portion of my laps on running day.
As a consequence of my disinterest in what constituted exercise, I grew up thinking that I was bad at it. I took it as a given that I was issued intelligence at birth and as such could not also possess any sort physical prowess. No one can have everything.
But a lot can happen between the ages of twelve and eighteen. In college I tried a group mat Pilates class because I got credit for it and it seemed unintimidating. I called silent dibs on the spot at the back closest to the door. I made eye contact and small talk with precisely no one, and was thoroughly bewildered to find that I didn’t hate being there. With cautious optimism, I conceded that I enjoyed it. I even felt good at it. I kept on with group mat classes through college and ultimately joined a gym when I moved to Chicago to continue my practice.
In 2016 I found myself involved with a food blog and pop-up dinner series, and through my associated travels found myself dating a New Yorker long-distance. I reveled in the budget jet setter lifestyle for a while before I had to face the music: the start-up life is a blast but the pay is terrible and I couldn’t live on savings alone anymore. In January 2017 I accepted a part-time position at Gold Coast’s local ‘84 Cafe, figuring I could earn some extra scratch and, more importantly, still take off for New York every six weeks without ruffling any feathers.
Gradually the food bloggers split over creative differences and the New Yorker and I started planning his move to Chicago. I had taken the cafe job to serve a very particular purpose and that purpose would soon become obsolete, but I still hadn’t quite decided ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’. I needed an exit strategy.
A Different Path: Pilates
The upside of effectively working in the employee break room is that I’m privy to everyone’s idle chit-chat. Sometime last spring, Gold Coast fitness director JP Maund mentioned that there was a blowout sale for employees on FFC’s Pilates certification program.
I arrived at the first Pilates teacher training seminar still wearing my cafe uniform. Almost everyone else there was already a trainer at FFC. I tried not to let the panic show on my face and reminded myself that we were all embarking on this odyssey together and technically they didn’t know any more about Pilates than I did.
Over the months, I kept my head down and did the work. I gained a quiet confidence in myself both as a physically capable individual and as a teacher with an eye for detail. Pilates is about subtlety; it’s a quiet and introspective form of exercise and I’m a quiet and introspective person. I’ve met my match.
What I’ve Learned Along the Way
I’m occasionally asked why someone should do Pilates. The objective, low-hanging fruit response is that Pilates is great for spinal health and that strengthening the core muscles alleviates back muscle compensation and spinal compression. Pilates improves posture, flexibility, body awareness, and skeletal alignment. This is all irrefutably valid and true.
More personally, I think Pilates is a revolutionary entry point for people who have historically felt bad at exercise. Someone who dreaded PE in high school because running was painful and organized sports were boring can find a much different, and potentially more meaningful, form of exercise in Pilates. That won’t be everyone’s experience, but it’s been mine. I think Pilates can give ‘non-athletic’ people not only an effective workout that’s physically good for them, but also a way to feel accomplished in a space that has been unwelcoming and uncomfortable for them in the past.
The New Yorker is a Chicagoan now, and it turns out I’m not bad at exercise; it just took me a while to find exercise for analytical introverts. Now all I need is to figure out whether I can write off stretchy pants on my taxes.
Post written by FFC employee Caitlin Preminger.
Caitlin is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Chicago for a baking internship after college. While the service industry isn’t for her, she still loves food as a medium of expression and and approaches cooking with a practicality that takes occasional detours into reverence. When she’s not cooking or practicing Pilates, you can find her in pursuit of her next creative outlet. You can follow along with her on her Pilates journey on her Instagram here!