Junkie for Joseph…


(Dead sexy.)

   “You know Farida, one day you’re going to be a great teacher because you’re starting from the bottom. And you’re learning everything the hard way.” This (or some variation of this) was said to me during one of my first Pilates lessons with my first teacher.
   My journey through Pilates was not that of a graceful ballerina with rocksolid discipline beginning her second career. My journey through Pilates has been painful, awkward, humiliating, and stressful. Things that my clients are able to pick up in a matter of months took me years and years. I saw the looks of disappointment on my teachers faces. They invested so much into a relentless daydreamer who could not seem to push herself…and live up to her potential.

   Now before you say “Wow Farida! Sounds like a fun time! Sign me up for that!” Know that my journey through Pilates has also been life changing, empowering, and very rewarding.

(Does this make you want to try Pilates?)

   As a child much like Joseph Pilates…I spent most of my time outside jumping, running, twisting, climbing, and exploring the limits of what my body could do. I never questioned. I just arrived ready to explore…whole and filled with limitless energy.

   In adolescence I became completely disconnected from my body. The only relationship that my body and I had was one of contempt. At night I squinted in the mirror and could see only a stranger. A stranger with a big butt, and huge boobs. I looked like the hulk compared to the tiny little thing I always knew myself to be. I wasn’t overweight at all…but that didn’t matter. My body and I were enemies…roommates forced to bunk up together.

   When you become disconnected from your body…you become a prisoner. You live in a flesh prison. You fight with your body everyday. Pilates gave me back my connection to my body. I learned to listen to my body, work with my body, and push myself safely. Most important was the physical freedom I got back…being able to move in ways I did when I was a kid.

   Five years ago I took a break. After years of Pilates, belly dancing, barre and hula hooping I stopped everything. No exercise at all. I was going through a BIG break up. My life was upside down and for  the first time ever, I craved stability. I started working a desk job…sitting eight hours a day. I’m grateful that I did it, because it taught me to be grounded, work hard, and commit to something for once…but for the first time in my life I felt real debilitating chronic pain.  

   Sciatica…burning, searing through my buttocks, hip, and the back of my leg. Sometimes it was too hard to even stand up. Some days I cried at my desk while looking at the computer screen. My body and I were not only disconnected, we were enemies again.

    Anyone who has chronic severe pain can tell you that it changes you. You become an angry, grumpy, tired shell of a person. Everyday tasks and interactions become torture. You lose your joy, your spirit, your dreams (“Who has time to dream? I can’t even get up the God damn steps or put my pant legs on!”)

(This isn’t horrifying at all.)

   I decided after two and some change that I was going to start teaching again, part time. But who wants to take lessons from an angry limping Pilates instructor? So I forced myself to jump back in, doing advanced exercises and working out hard. The pain worsened. I pushed and pushed stubbornly for a long time. Things continued to worsen. I was 29 and I felt ancient. So I had to start from the bottom again.

   This is when I learned one of the biggest lessons of my life. Success is about showing up. Everyday. My pain severely limited what exercises I could do. My workouts were short…but I was consistent. I showed up to the studio everyday and went through my basic routine. I treated myself like I would a client. 

   Two months later, I was pain free.

   I’m teaching  full time again. I’ve been pain free for sometime and in much better shape. But being far away from other classical teachers in Pilates Siberia, I get lazy. I end up doing a little here and there…the bare minimum…but I want to challenge myself. I want to up my game! So this year I’ll be doing the “Return to Life Challenge”. Just as Joe did, I’ll use myself as an example of what Pilates can do. 

   Everyday for the next year I will do Joe’s mat workout from his book Pilates’ Return to Life through Contrology…I will post pictures and updates here on the blog weekly. Any exercises I can’t do I’ll leave out or modify. I’ll work to progress myself using the Pilates apparatus just as I would for a client.

*Just a disclaimer…this is not a challenge I recommend for anyone who is not very experienced and not being over seen by a good instructor. So don’t try this at home! Get thee to a good classical studio!

(I’m gonna flow like Joe.)

   I can’t wait to share my progress! I did Return to Life this morning between clients and it felt good! Next week I’ll post my first real update with photos. I’ll do my best to be real, raw, and candid. 

Much love! 




This is me.


So this is me. And I’m finally getting used to it. These pictures were taken in my car after work, early in the morning. No make up…no filters…just me.

Not that I ever wore very much make-up. Just some eye liner, a little blush on my eyelids so the liner doesn’t bleed and create the dreaded eye lid schmear. But somehow as I move about the world I feel sloppy and unfit for social interaction without my eye liner and maybe a smudge of tinted lip balm. My raw face, unpainted and un-fussed is abrasive, or even offensive.

I don’t really use Facebook these days. Its all about Instagram for me. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures. And though my feed is mostly food, travel, and tarot, I am not immune to images of woman, hair burned, teased, and tossed into shiny submission. Faces scrubbed, buffed, Β and contoured. Clown contouring…I shit you not, it’s a real term…if you’ve never heard of it, google it. And don’t you dare leave the house without coloring your eye brows in!

It feels like what used to be dress up has now become daily life. There’s the me that I wake up to, rubbing the crust out of my eyes, driving to work, eating an entire container of dried mango for breakfast and lunch (Hey its healthy right? I got it at Mom’s Market!). Then there’s internet me, a cartoon with perfect shiny cascading waves of hair, chiseled cheek bones, a tiny nose, and a perfect body, despite the cocktails I drank last night or the burger that I ate.

Look, I respect the idea that make up has become an art. And with the help of You Tube I can transform myself in a way that was previously reserved for Hollywood starlets and pop stars. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I have become addicted to Snap Chat filter selfies. I love seeing my face morph into a bunny, dog, or deer. I like to get dolled up to go out…do my hair, make my liner wings sharp, get my nails done.

There are consequences though. Since most of us are spending inordinate amounts of time on our phones…these painted faces and hair extensions are blending into reality. I forget what real hair, real faces, and bare skin looks like. Real raw women with no filters. And since we document everything we do now on our phones, we have to be camera ready at all times. We are all performers now. We are presenting instead of experiencing.

In starting this blog I was really worried about how I would find my real voice. I wanted to make sure that even if nobody ever reads this, I put myself out there. So I took these selfies. And I looked at them. I looked at them again and again until I started to see myself. Until I started to see a thousand reasons to love this face, this person.

This is me.