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The Power of Play

Does play and Pilates intersect?

By Mychele Sims, NCPT

We learn to BE by observation as young ones.

As human beings we are perpetually in the state of flux as we grow. Somehow there is a value that shapes us that seems to get lost when we become “ADULTS;” PLAY.

As adults, we have been told there is no room for play. We have to be serious and responsible.


Think back to your imagination as a starry-eyed child. No limitations. You were free to play and create your own universe. You could be whoever or whatever you wanted to be. You laughed! You jumped! You wondered! You climbed! My favorite things from my childhood were tetherball, hopscotch and playing on the monkey bars. I wasn’t very good at double-dutch but I loved the rhythm of those who could. Sometimes I pass by kids playing and wonder why the joys and freedoms tied to childhood don’t necessarily carry over to adulthood.

You can do your own quest to decide what play is defined as in your soul or by textbook. I believe play is wonderment as a curious young one. Play is experiential. Play is learning who you are as an expression. The energy, pureness, freedom to dream and conjure up sacred spaces don’t seem readily tied to the adult expectations of responsibility. Play is what develops us.

I performed a quick search of internet memes regarding “A DULTING,” and overwhelmingly, Beyonce’s internet reports that adulting is overrated.

All we wanted to do was grow up and here we are writing blogs and paying bills. Somewhere in our adult explorations we were called to learn Pilates.

The process for some learning to teach Pilates was very regimented. Pilates, at his core (you see what I did there?), can be seen as a rigid practice rife with precision. My story is that I found that my style of learning requires play as a process. As I logged my apprenticeship hours, it bothered me that there wasn’t much play involved. Things weren’t clicking for my playful self.

I had the pleasure of training my mother as one of my Pilates “clients.” My mom was a dancer and practiced yoga for decades. She had never tried Pilates. As we moved together in Pilates ways, she said something very profound to me. She said, “You've always been doing this. You've always moved this way.” To her point, I've always been bendy, stretchy and flexible. I was dancing as long as I can remember walking. Suddenly, I got the flashback of me on the playground, me in gymnastics, me learning how to do a “flip flop back,” me swinging between the bunk beds in the room with my sisters; my life filled with somersaults. This gem my mom dropped certainly resonated. When I left my mother that day, I told myself I would make sure that play was a part of my practice.

Today PLAY informs how I teach. PLAY informs how I approach an exercise. I think play is permission. Permission to try without being judged; play without regret. Listen to that playful voice inside your head. How does it want you to connect? Imagine allowing your body to tell you what it wants and how it wants to move. All things considered, adulting is not that mundane and Pilates doesn't have to be so regimented.

How will you or how DO you incorporate play?

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