you can always teach an old dog new tricks

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.  An old adage.  how did that phrase come about? and why?

I've been teaching Pilates for over a decade and the one thing I am most sure of is that the body will always respond and grow past human comprehension when applying the method to a disciplined schedule.  A lot of my clients are over 60 years old and I believe there is a surge of interest in Pilates within that generation for two reasons.  They didn't grow up with as strong of  an exercise culture and they are having that moment of shock when they realize that they want to gain flexibility, improved balance and a longer life.  

This awareness seems to be permeating into all generations these days.  Pilates is ubiquitous now and everyone is seeing what an important role it has in helping people realize the need to shape and maintain a healthy spine.  After all, Joseph Pilates said that "you are as old as your spine is flexible".  And yet, people don't believe it!  They have convinced themselves that their bodies "don't move like that" or that their "parents had the same limitations" or they're recovering from injuries and will think with their very cautious brains.  "I don't want to push it because I don't want to have a set back."

This is totally reasonable.  We are constantly acquiring and storing trauma in our minds and our bodies hold us hostage, preventing us from finally realizing our pure potential.  I often feel like I'm in the middle of a bridge.  I can clearly see where they are coming from, how they are Crossing their bridge and ultimately where they will absolutely arrive.  It's like no matter where they are at on the bridge, they will always think with their "old brains" form when they were underdeveloped, injured or scared.  It only takes people tapping into GROWTH of their current bodies to truly embrace the fruits of their labor in their pilates sessions. 

I would never ask anyone to attempt an exercise that their bodies couldn't do at any stage in their progress.  At the same time, I try to recreate exercises that mimic the cause of their traumas or evoke their old sense of fear.  My most proudest moments manifest when they accomplish something that they're scared of with an ease that even their eyeballs can't believe.  

That's when it happens.  That's when an old dog learns new tricks.  The old dog isn't necessarily about any age at all, its about the old habits that collect cobwebs in our minds and hearts.

I have this one client who came to me because he reached behind his desk and pulled his back out.  He didn't have the flexibility to rotate or the strength to support the rotation.  As I slowly got to know his anatomy, we knocked out that injury but realized that the entire left side of his body was way tighter than his right.  then it dawned on him that he had been struck by a car when he was younger and wasn't sure if he landed or got hit on his left side.  he also wasn't sure that it had really affected his body in any real way  and once he did see the connection, he wasn't sure he could truly change his body in a way that could improve his life.  After all, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Well guess what? Ten years later, this little Frankenstein of mine is in his seventies, stronger and more elastic than when he was in his twenties.  He was so out of touch, blocked and confined with the stories he had told himself that it prohibited from opening up.  He was that client that I'd be like, "You feel that? Right there? That's exactly it!!!" He'd reply with "Um, not sure.  Actually, not at all..." - FOR EIGHT YEARS!

Only recently has this guy started to enable his mind/body connection and frankly, has never gotten injured again.  He has completely transformed his spine and you know what?  You should check out the tricks that this old dog can do.

Eddy Rioseco