Jessi Piha Real Talk

My Life Is A Progression, Not Perfect by Jessi Piha

I’m exactly where I am supposed to be.

In a city where women are dying to be, to look, to present themselves as perfect, it’s a miracle I became a person I can be proud of. Trying to be perfect is magnified by being judged daily on social media – how many “likes” you get on Facebook can mean the difference between having a good day or a horrendous day. It is a delicate balance to find an inner peace amidst the choir of voices giving their feedback every second.

When the world is focused on finding people’s personalities on the Internet it puts me in a vulnerable place: Do I put myself out there and risk the criticism? HELL YES!! is the answer to that question. I know that everyone has an opinion and their own way of expressing it – that’s what makes this world so beautiful – we are individuals, we are all unique.

The trick is to not take it all personally. I wasn’t taught that as a young girl and I wish I had had a guidebook, a 101 on how to survive in Los Angeles, but I didn’t. I wish my parents hadn’t divorced, I wish I had made better choices with my relationships, I wish I had never known the intense feeling of fear and anxiety that debilitated me to the point of taking drugs, drinking and isolation. I had been given material things growing up which led me to believe I was getting it all, everything I wanted, but was it everything I needed? It wasn’t until I got sober that I did some deep painful and insightful soul searching.

I believe there has been a plan for me all along. In my early 20’s, I was randomly (if you believe in accidents) asked to work the front desk of a health club. This became the stepping-stone that triggered my interest in fitness. Ironically, the 20 years to follow were the unhealthiest of my journey. Anyone who knows me now post-addiction can’t fathom the path of destruction that led me to my present. It doesn’t make sense and it shouldn’t have worked but it did. Someone up there wanted me to teach this message; to have it all come to fruition in a way that could maybe reach just one person who is suffering like I did. After getting my act together I came back to the one one thing that I knew, Pilates. It grew from there to a place I never thought I was capable of: a confidence and command of my body and mind, a true work in progress every day. I get to help change lives and connect with people in a way that not many get to do.

I’m a free spirit, a hippie, “Old school,” so it’s difficult to hang on to that in the world the way it is now. I miss answering machines, I miss the anticipation and the waiting to come home to get messages, communication happens fast and everyone is rushing. I miss taking photos and taking the film to be developed and getting together with friends to pass photos around. I want to adapt and at the same time I resist and that takes me back to a place on anxiety I lived with for so long. So I keep on adapting and accepting and having faith that there is a safe place in my soul that is always going to be here for me and I don’t have to look to the past or the outside to find it.

I’m realizing just this moment as I’m writing that surrendering and giving up are two very different acts and surrendering doesn’t’ mean I’m weak, it just means that it’s ok to let go. I’ve never given up, I hate the word “can’t,” and as long as I always try I can be proud of myself. The first month of getting sober put me in a vulnerable position to rely not only on my own self will but also the support of total strangers. Although we were all working towards the same goal of getting clean I didn’t know these people and after so many years of isolation it was terrifying to let my guard down. As it turns out that experience was one of the first of hundreds of blessings to cross my path. Of course at the time I wouldn’t realize it but the parallels now concerning my career are crystal clear. The amazing compassion from people I barely knew got me back on my feet. I had to bravely commit to something so frightening in order to get the life I wanted. The life I get to experience now is a direct result of a miracle that happened to me. I pay it forward by empowering my clients to reach out, let go and jump into something that may be scary but the rewards are far greater. I’m a cheerleader and motivator in my classes but when I have an opportunity to get humble and share with them how I’ve had the same struggles as they are having, the same fears, it breaks the barriers even more. It makes them vulnerable and that’s when they get to have THEIR breakthrough.

Being uncomfortable is a feeling that lived inside me, it was and can still be painful. It’s an interesting dichotomy because learning to tolerate being uncomfortable is how I teach my fitness classes, learn to live and love the pain and the burn and you will evoke change within your body. It’s impossible not to get attached when I am witnessing miracles, breakthroughs and goals being achieved. What makes me the teacher I am today is the ability to be relatable. Walk the walk, to talk the talk. The sense of empowerment I can help someone feel transcends far beyond just doing a set of push-ups or holding a plank. This year I had the privilege of working with a girl throughout her first pregnancy. Three times a week I was blessed to watch her on her path leading up to miracle of giving life, she developed a strength and a glow and I was impressed every time she just showed up for class. When that little girl was born and I got to hold her when she was 9 pounds and just 3 weeks old, was a moment that touched my heart and that feeling of happiness for someone else’s joy is an unbelievable emotion.

These moments are gone in the blink of an eye. Progress is time just moving through space and the perfection is some fantasy, an end result I have created in my head. It isn’t’ real, the moments are real and they are beautiful.

Connect with Jessi Piha via Instagram, Twitter and her website.

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Written by Jessi Piha

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I've made my home in Santa Monica, California. My incredible journey through health and fitness has had its ebb and flow, but because of my dedication to fitness and roots to this community, I am now blessed to be recognized as one of the top fitness teachers on the Westside.


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