As the country emerges from a pandemic shutdown, many of us have chosen to reevaluate what matters.
In our recent Living Room Series we chat with Founding Instructor Mychele Sims about just that. We share how we broke up with that battle for balance－instead focusing on what brings us joy, talked about quieting self-doubt, and began to realize accepting ourselves as we are is the key to it all.
Mychele channels her passion for movement as a nationally certified Pilates teacher. She's a certified personal trainer, and certified group fitness instructor. She's a yoga and dance teacher, and owns her own Pilates studio, Get2Werk Fitness in downtown Los Angeles.
When you realize you need balance in your life…
Mychele has an extensive background working in criminal justice as a trial investigator.
Mychele: “I work on high profile cases; cases that you see in the news, and I've been doing that work a long time. I've been doing work in this field for 20 years. It became a bit much for me because I was just seeing so much of the underbelly of people or situations. I started to go crazy early on, but I kind of let it go for about a decade. I gained a lot of weight, became depressed, and said I need to do something else.”
Mychele was brought to the world of fitness based on her experience as a dancer.
Mychele: “Fitness became something to help me find balance in my life because of all of the negativity I see at my day job. I thought, ‘let me just go make people happy, and let's just dance!’"
That love for dance got her into personal training, being a group fitness instructor, and reminded her how much she loved Pilates.
Mychele: “I took a Pilates teacher training, and it changed my life.”
“If movement is your thing, that's one way to find balance and I love that. That's what we're doing here with Flexia and that's what I'm doing in my life. If you’re not moving on a Pilates reformer, think of other ways you can move. What can I do? Do I go to the beach? Do I ground my feet into the sand? the grass? Do something because everything feels so heavy.
When COVID hit, many thought they had balance before the pandemic, but there’s nothing like a global shut down to put things in perspective.
Mychele: “I'm a spa girl. I'm a trip girl. If you want to see Mychele recharge you’ll see her go away for a weekend. When the pandemic hit, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t do my thing and my bathtub at home is not big enough for me to really soak in. Before I thought that self-care meant doing outside things but self-care really meant going internal for me."
When the pandemic hit, many fitness teachers had to pivot, and pivot quickly. This sparked a new way for instructors alike to connect with wider audiences, beyond the doors of the gym or studio.
Mychele: “So as an all inclusive thing, I'm going to BIG UP (‘celebrate’) Flexia! I'm going to big up what we have been able to do thus far, and we'll continue to do going forward: changing the face of Pilates. When I got a chance to open my studio, it was like getting to know the intimate parts of a Pilates studio more. Before, I was going through the motions and now I’m deepening my practice. I couldn’t go to the gym and work out. Now I can go to my 'she-shed' (studio) and practice. Those moments with myself in the studio just strengthened my resolve, because there were moments that I thought I was going to lose it.”
Sometimes we fall short of attaining balance. We can trip on self-doubt and land on self-criticism, but it’s about loving yourself fully, as you are, that helps quiet the voices in our heads.
Mychele admits she’s struggled with self-doubt and feeling not enough.
Mychele: “I know that everyone who teaches Pilates is not a dancer. I am. So for me, when I got a little internal nudge to show up MORE during the pandemic, I've been out here. I have been teaching Pilates specifically since 2016, teaching PiYo (Pilates and yoga blend) since 2014. I had some moments of doubt. I thought ‘I'm not good enough. I'm not that person. I'm not that name. I don't look like this. I don't have that. I don't…’ I sat there and talked myself out of a lot of job situations. Thank God to the people in my corner (y’all know who you are). They said, ‘Girl, you are her!’
I would take other instructor’s classes and think, "Hey! I do that! Wait! I do that too!" I was able to counter that doubt by switching focus. I began to reassure myself with the knowledge that what I bring to a movement experience is already enough. You know what I'm saying? It replays in my head every day. Every day I get an email, a ping, a text or something saying, ‘Hey Mychele, can you do X, Y, Z?’ and I say, ‘Who ME?????’
I've learned to lean more into my ‘woo (aka spirituality) and take a beat. Take a beat. Take a breath. Nothing happens by accident. Whatever your higher power is they have your best interest in mind and will bless your efforts. Essentially, if it wasn't for you, it wouldn't be presented to you. And if you weren't ready, it wouldn't be presented to you.
I said on IG Live that 10 years ago, when I was a size six, I had the fitness instructor 'look.' No big gigs called me. Why didn't you all call me then? Why did y’all wait until I got 50 pounds heavier than I've ever been. I'm older and wiser but I do wonder why these fitness brands didn't call when I was 40? Simply put, It wasn't time. It is now.”
As women, and men, we can feel trapped in certain body images or the “ideal” body. While having goals isn’t a bad thing, it can feel very isolating if we don’t look a certain way or meet the constraints of certain societal expectations.
Mychele: “Oh, there are books, scholarly, and all kinds of white papers written about this. I know a little something about this. One of my hats that I wear is my background in anthropology. So, I will qualify my opinion and the statement I'm going to make.
We're in America. Other cultures are a little bit different, some cultures are matriarchal. They're run by matriarchs as opposed to patriarchy. The gaze that is looking at us, as women, wants us to look a certain way, be a certain way, and show the type of behavior a 'good woman' should exude.
It is crap and we're slowly breaking down the bricks of that wall throughout these recent years, for sure. But there is something to be said about being in love with yourself despite the gaze society puts upon you. As a woman, are you not sexy if you don't look like this person or that person? Are you not sexy, because you're just existing? You're not looking for male or female attention or any kind of partnership attention. You're just existing in the world. The fact that our hearts beat, our lungs are filled with air, our limbs are working in the best way they can for us. That is such an accomplishment to hit every day. And it's all this outside, external pressure that is put upon us, that is not realistic. It is an active journey to be in love with yourself, no matter what that looks like.
For the men, if you're not a certain height, you don't have a certain ‘thing', those external pressures are just as unreasonable. It all takes self-love. It takes introspection and learning; maybe therapy, to deep-dive into those things, because we can't fix everything."
Finding balance in our lives will look different for each person, and overcoming self-doubt and loving ourselves takes work.
Mychele: “I'm all about therapy! I want you to know, in the Black community, it's like, ‘Oh, we're fine.’ By the time the pandemic hit, I was like, "Well, I guess I’ll go find a Black therapist." We need more diverse therapists. The office was like, "Honey, they are all booked! You get who you get!" My therapist is amazing. I love her to death! I'm so grateful for her. So again, sometimes you ask for one thing and the universe gives you what you need.
It has to be a match. I was lucky to find her. I've been to therapists before and some did not get me at all. You're only reading a checklist and checking the boxes. You're not really relating to me, you're not listening to me.’ So I was like ‘this isn't going to work’. My therapist teleconferenced me and she was not Black. She said ‘Wait! Before you click off, I understand you. I read your file. I am your therapist.’ She was right.
If you're thinking about therapy, group or individual, it’s a great investment of time for healing. Therapy and reflection work will help fight any self doubt. At the end of the day, it’s really about learning to love and accept yourself. Free yourself from the societal expectations of balance, ability, and body. We are all deserving. WE ALL BELONG."
If you can’t get enough of this Instructor Talk and want to check out more of Mychele’s interview, you can catch the entire Living Room Series, in our Official Flexia Facebook Community.