Practice Poise

Since the day I knew I was going to be opening Studio Poise, I knew a blog would be essential to its existence.  As an English major, my affinity for writing, telling and hearing stories, and reading have been forever present in my character.  Much like I now feel I was born to be an “Instructress”, I was also born to be a part of the written word.  As the past two years have gone on, the building of a blog has always been on the priority list, but never quite made its way to the top until now. 

Instructress, Becky Parker, has finally taken the reigns and made the updated SP website and blog finally happen.  The only problem being that I was in charge of writing and posting the first blog.  No problem I thought to myself, but really, how does one begin?  For weeks now I have known this first blog was my baby, and while there are so very many things I can say, how do I choose; how do I limit myself; and how do I inspire?  Needless to say, the first blog entry is a lot of pressure, especially being El Presidente of #poisenation.  But today, one day before the 2nd Birthday of Studio Poise, it came to me…

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When I first began teaching group fitness classes, they were MY workouts.  It was really great because I was getting paid, I was getting a free gym membership, and I was getting my calorie burn in all at once.  It was also my time to escape from my life and my full-time job and just do me. As time went on, I started to get to know some of the people coming to my classes and was building relationships. I began adding a few more classes per week because, why not? It was not until about 6 months into knowing one of my clients, Ellen (who many of you know and still see at Studio Poise all the time!), came up to me at a ZUMBA function.  She pulled me aside after I taught a portion of the event and said, “You know, you don’t realize it, but you are changing lives.”  That moment is forever burned in my memory.  I realized in that instance that while what I was doing was changing my life – it was really about the people in my classes, and not me at all.  It took a long time – years even; but from that day forward I started building my classes, choreography, and execution in a way that took my attention off of me and what I was getting from the classes and toward the people in them. As an instructor, it is not easy to do this.  It’s an inner battle – does my class want to see me sweating it out with them, or do they just want me in their ear telling them exactly what to do?  I have not mastered the skill, but I’ve come a long way. 

I am at the point now where I know, my classes are NOT my workouts – they are my client’s workouts. That, in my opinion, is the difference between a good instructor, and a GREAT instructor.  OK, ok…I admit, I take advantage of my Friday morning Piloxing class and may or may not be sure to get my own sweat on!  I digress.  So, knowing all of this now, where does the Queen of Studio Poise, who teaches 2-3 classes per day, get her own workout in?  It’s true, I cheat on SP::GASP:: Sometimes I go to the gym, sometimes I venture to different studios and group fitness classes.  But, as of this past Fall, as a result of my own personal life changing experiences, I decided it was time to commit myself to something that would give the “ME” time that all of my SP clients sought when coming to my own classes.  I didn’t know exactly what this was going to be but I was willing to take the time to find it.  “Maybe I will start knitting?” Just kidding, I never said that, but I would have if it came to that.  Instructress Extraordinaire, and dear friend, Ali Oxton texted me on one Indian Summer Sunday morning, at which time was maybe one of my weakest hours in life, and told me she was going to a free lululemon yoga class on the green at MarketStreet.  No pressure, but if I wanted to join, she would be there!  I didn’t want to go…not even a little bit. I wasn’t a yogi, nor would I ever become one. But something inside me said, maybe this is EXACTLY what you need right now.  And so I went. Was I miraculously touched and healed by the yoga gods to forever be a destined yogi in that one instance?  No, but it definitely would have been a fairy tale ending.  It was OK, and I got through it. It was a beautiful day so it was nice to be out and moving.  I did, however, think to myself that maybe I should consider giving yoga a chance instead of always counting it out.  And so I began taking classes throughout the community.  I promised myself I’d give it a month.  The first few were terrible, and then they started getting better.  The consistent factor was that each and every time I was done with a class, I got in my car, took a deep breath, and thought “hmm, I FEEL really good”. 

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…And so here I am.  I am a yogi. A beginner still at best, but still a yogi. You may not have known that about me, as it is mine, I don’t need to talk about it.  It is what I do, it is how I function now.  Its my ME time.  Why I needed to preface all of this with my newfound yoga love is because today’s blog came to me during my class this morning.  It was perfect, and I would be lying if right there in the middle of an intense 90-minute hot power yoga, I tried to tell you that a tear didn’t roll down my cheek. I was at Empower in Beverly with the absolutely fabulous Elizabeth Huntsman De Angelis (check her out if you ever have a free moment), when in the middle of a leg shaking, sweat pouring, standing split that made me want to fall over, Elizabeth said to the class – “You are practicing poise”. In the past 7 months of attending at least 2 yoga classes per week, never once has “poise” been brought up.  And there I was, in slight agony, one day before the 2nd year of my studio being opened for business, and the instructor reminds me that I am practicing poise.  And instantly, this is what my first blog will be about!

Like yoga - poise is, in fact, a practice. When I got home, for the hell of it, I googled “practicing poise”.  Something came up from Ask.com, and this is what it said:

How to Develop Poise:
Having poise means you display self-confidence in any given situation. People look to you for leadership and guidance in tough and highly charged situations. If you want to be the “go-to guy” during when times get tough, develop poise to give yourself that strong and steady appeal.
— ask.com

This is what everyone at SP practices every day.  Maybe we don’t all want to be that “go-to-guy” (or lady), but we want to be strong, we want to be steady in our lives. To this day, nobody has ever asked me why I named my studio, Studio Poise. I’ve wondered on several occasions why nobody would ever ask me that question. Secretly, I was glad because I don’t know that I would ever have a set answer.  It was something that came to me one day when I thought about myself. If nothing else, in all my years growing up as a dancer and athlete, I always credited myself with being poised.  Chin up and graceful on the stage, and calm and controlled on the soccer field. I thought I could bring that to the clients that would eventually come to my studio.  While we are not ALWAYS poised in life (myself included), the constant mind/body practice of it makes us better. After I read the ask.com response I said to myself “…am I the go-to-guy at SP?” with a little bit of a giggle, and a smile of course, I thought, “hey – I kinda am, who woulda thought?”.  But here I am, still practicing poise.

“Chin up, chest open, shoulders down…smile”.  Simple things - that is poise. And since day 1 of that door opening, I don’t think a day has gone by when I haven’t said it out loud in SP. It’s in my head now, just as I hope it’s in the head of all my clients.  When I walk into a room where I may feel uncomfortable at first… “chin up, chest open, shoulders down…smile”.  I am constantly practicing poise, even when I am in my yoga class trying to mentally clear my head of “poise” (the not so fun business side of it, of course!) And thus, I am grateful and happy to remind you all that while we go to the sparkly place of Studio Poise every day with the intention of ME time, calorie counts, muscle burns, and to use our fancy pants new water bubbler – we should focus on what we are really getting out of it.  Sure, our skirts look a little better and we don’t hate bathing suit season quite as much – but its poise.  We are constantly practicing attaining that poise that will get us through life and all situations we may have to face.  The poise to stay humble in victories. The poise to stay strong at our weakest. The poise to say nothing at all when we really want to say something mean. The poise to laugh when we really want to cry. The poise to help others, even when we think we need the most help. The poise to accept what we cannot change. And the poise to smile, no matter what.

Today, tomorrow, and every day – practice poise


Danielle Roback

Studio Poise, 12 Salem St, Lynnfield, MA 01940, USA