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Navigating Negativity: Empowering Change through Pilates

Neuroplasticity in Pilates
Brain Rewiring

As Pilates teachers, we encounter a wide variety of clients, each with their unique perspectives and mindsets. Among them, we sometimes meet individuals who radiate negativity. This negativity can extend beyond our studios into our personal lives, affecting our overall well-being. Understanding that this negative outlook is how they are "wired" at the moment can help us approach these clients with more empathy and patience. But can people change? And as Pilates teachers, can we influence this change?

Understanding the Negativity Bias

First, it’s essential to recognise that our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative. This negativity bias, a survival mechanism from our evolutionary past, makes us more likely to remember and dwell on negative experiences. However, modern neuroscience has shown that our brains are more plastic than once believed. Neuroplasticity – the brain's ability to rewire itself – means that, with effort and the right strategies, we can help our clients (and ourselves) shift towards a more positive outlook.

The Science of Change

Affirmations have long been touted as a tool for fostering positive change. While some people, including myself, have been sceptical about their effectiveness, the underlying principle is compelling. The idea is that by repeating positive statements, we can start to overwrite the negative pathways that have been reinforced over time.

Research in neuroplasticity supports this. It’s not about undoing the existing wiring but about creating new, more energy-efficient pathways through repetition and emotional intensity. This means consistently engaging in new thoughts or behaviours until they become the brain’s default mode.

Affirmations: A Balanced View

Despite the scepticism, there is evidence suggesting that affirmations can be effective if they resonate deeply with the individual. The key is emotional intensity. If an affirmation feels hollow or unbelievable, it’s unlikely to be effective. However, when an affirmation strikes a chord and feels plausible, it can open the door to new possibilities.

For instance, instead of a generic affirmation like “I am good enough,” which might be met with internal resistance, consider a more personalised and plausible statement like “I could be the first in my family to achieve this.” This approach acknowledges the individual's unique context and challenges, making the affirmation more relatable and believable.

Practical Tips for Pilates Teachers

  1. Empathy and Understanding: Recognise that negativity is often a defence mechanism. Approach these clients with empathy, understanding that their outlook is a product of their current wiring, not an inherent trait.

  2. Personalised Affirmations: Help clients craft personalised affirmations that feel authentic and achievable. Encourage them to identify underlying beliefs and create statements that address these beliefs directly.

  3. Repetition and Consistency: Emphasise the importance of consistency. Encourage clients to repeat their affirmations regularly, both in and out of the studio, to reinforce new neural pathways.

  4. Create a Positive Environment: Foster a positive and supportive environment in your studio. Surrounding clients with positivity can help counterbalance their negative tendencies and support their journey towards change.

  5. Encourage Self-Reflection: Invite clients to reflect on their progress and celebrate small victories. This can help build momentum and reinforce the belief that change is possible.


While changing deeply ingrained negative mindsets can be challenging, it’s not impossible. As Pilates teachers, we have the opportunity to support our clients in this journey, leveraging the principles of neuroplasticity and the power of personalised affirmations. By fostering a supportive environment and encouraging consistent, emotionally resonant practices, we can help our clients rewrite their stories, one positive affirmation at a time.

Change is possible. And sometimes, all it takes is the belief that “I could be the first.”


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