By Lauren Sale

My initial fitness motivation started as that of simply wanting to live in a pain-free body.

As an adolescent, I was plagued by painful muscle spasms and sciatica, only to have overcome it all and become freer within my body than (almost ever) before. It was all thanks to Pilates and a good physiotherapist. This is how my journey started and this is the “why”, the reason, the motivation that keeps me going in the fitness direction to this day.

The irony of it all is that so many take this for granted, and out of a reckless sense of entitlement, waste away what I always perceived as a precious gift. For good health, in all reality, is priceless.

In today’s world of fast – paced living it’s no wonder that we crave instant satisfaction and fast results. The farce of Photoshopped images and layers of photographic filtering has left us with an internal programming of not only our concept of aesthetics, but of our own self criticism.

For example, as a Fitness Instructor , I often give modifications to exercises, where regressions and progressions can be chosen. Without a doubt, those who are not ready for the progression will inevitably attempt the advanced version of the exercise, and fail, sitting aside with a deflated expression. What startles me is the amount of self criticism and berating the person does to themselves for “failing ” to perfectly master something that has taken me over a decade to execute.

One thing that Yoga can teach us is Ahisma , this is one of the principles of the eight limbs of Yoga which often translates as “non – violence ” or “non – injury .” It includes compassion or consideration of all living beings. This precept includes your treatment of your body during your Yoga practice. Overworking your body is neglecting to take care and, as such, is a form of misuse.

The psychological impact of self criticism and competitiveness against oneself or others can be extremely dangerous and takes away from the very essence of your practice.

In saying this, I feel there is nothing wrong with wanting to tone up , lose body fat and improve your overall body shape, but at what cost are we prepared to do this? Is it acceptable to void your body of essential nutrients and calories to get on the “fast track” to weight loss? Is it acceptable to only choose exercise sources that elicit the muscle “burn”, the high intensity, the “pro athlete” and highly dangerous forms of exercise that ultimately leave us with chronic injuries and pain?Do we only measure our worth by performance and results? This is a very dangerous mindset and finding the balance is essential in the longevity of our bodies, for we only get one body in this life.

Perhaps a simpler question to ask is do you feel good? Does eating and exercising the way you do make you feel good, vibrant, healthy and balanced? No one person or book or magazine can ever tell you what makes you feel good. This is your personal journey, you are the master of your life and in the words of Louise Hay – “the power is within you.”

So, dear readers, what is your “why”? What motivates you?


Lauren is a Pilates instructor and owner of The Pilates Fanatic Studio in Cape Town, South Africa.