Rest is a Four Letter Word: Thoughts on balance and recovery

Rest is a Four Letter Word: Thoughts on balance and recovery


In September of 2014, I had the first of two hip replacement surgeries and the second five weeks later.  As I write this, I have a month to go before my two-year anniversary, and only now am I beginning to feel more like myself.  I feel blessed for this because things could have gone differently. 

As a classically trained dancer, beginning at age four, I have moved and trained athletically my entire life.  In fact I have dedicated my life to the exploration, beauty and power of physical movement. My personality has been formed through this lifelong pursuit, and I founded a business on these passions, which has drawn driven, fiercely committed and focused individuals to our community.  I am proud to be in the company of these great people which include both teachers and clients.  But lately I’ve been troubled about the down side of “drive.”  Could I have avoided hip replacement?  After dancing for 20 years, perhaps not.  However, my body gave me signals, in the form of pain that I consistently ignored for three years.  I continued to move into pain, only exacerbating my pathology. 

​Lately, I am troubled as I see the same behavior in many of our clients as they ignore pain and train through it.  The likely outcome of this behavior is surgery as in my case.  My own surgeries were a wake up call to the importance of balance in training.  Our gains come from recovery–the extremely important time needed for the body (and mind) to rest and heal.  This balance is as much a discipline as the intense and focused training we pursue, but sadly, not as well managed.  Rest is often a “four letter word.” Those of us who “go hard” pride ourselves on this ability,  and often it is a reflection of how we conduct the rest of our lives.  But we will be stopped in our tracks.  The body will revolt to get our attention. I have  paid a severe price for this, but I have also witnessed this recently with a few of our most fit, driven and physically accomplished clients.  And this must change if we all want to be moving with grace, dignity and strength for many years to come.  

Keep in mind that rest and recovery are multifaceted and encompass more than just muscle repair. They involve chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, mental state, and more. Depleting our body in any of these ways can reduce our quality of life on many levels beyond acute injury. And though balance is an elusive asset to master, it is vital that we all support each other in striving toward that place of equilibrium and moving in the direction of our highest-self and best life. 


As we prepare to launch RB360online I encourage all of you to study our educational videos, and start at the beginning again.  Slow down.  Practice the fundamental work. Listen, and let the information sink deeper.  Find the time.  Pause and repeat sections, which is not possible in real time in the classroom. 

Elisabeth and I have spent many long hours in research to design a platform that will not only deliver the excellent programming many of you have come to expect, but will also provide you with a movement library based on RedBird methodology that is now completely accessible to you anywhere you are.  Study and bring this new level of mindfulness into your home practice as well as the classroom.  Listen to your body.  NEVER move into pain. 

As we move forward and our community grows across the world, our slogan “it’s not what you do but how you do it” must change to “it’s not what you do and how you do it, but how long you can do it.”  Longevity of movement is at the heart of the RedBird philosophy.  Let’s recalibrate and pride ourselves not only on our fierce discipline to train hard, but also to train smart, by adding the needed recovery time and the attentiveness to listen to our bodies’ messages. 

Blog Post by Lee Vallely, Founder and Director of RedBird Pilates and Fitness 
(4) Comments
    1. As someone who could have been standing at the barre next to you when that picture was taken, I wish all of your students could have seen how incredibly hard you worked to achieve artist excellence. And you did. To have gone forward i. Life to help others and be of service makes me love you more. I did not think that was possible! Your concern for others is what this life is all about!

  1. Sound, thoughtful, loving advice based on experience and study. Thank you, Lee, for redefining fitness as a way of being, rather than a short term goal. With Rest we won’t need RICE.

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