Helping people and doing good…

Posted on January 11, 2017 by Movement Health in ,
Ladies shoulders doing pike on Pilates chair

Late last year I participated in a respectful online professional debate, it’s not something I regularly do, however the topic was one I’m very passionate about. I was engaged with multiple online ‘adversaries’ who seemed very fixed in their position; as I was the only counter-point to the discussion I felt somewhat vulnerable, I also felt frustrated that the others weren’t entirely  grasping my points. This mix of vulnerability and frustration saw me being somewhat dismissive in my attitude towards these people and then a shift occurred. The shift was simple, I realised that while we may see the world a little differently (diversity is healthy) we choose to work as health professionals so that we can help people. As hard and challenging as this online experience was, the greater shared common thread was that we study, train, practice, debate, engage etc. because we want to help people.

Helping people can mean any number of things; in an Exercise Physiology or Pilates setting it could mean:

  • Introducing exercise programming that will help a client’s injury to heal.
  • Challenging an individual to self-manage a condition with physical activity.
  • Educating someone about their health condition.
  • Creating a space where people feel comfortable exploring their movement potential.

These are just a few, there’s likely a lot more…

Some of the best professional advice I ever got always had at its core the concept of helping people. Early in my career a very experienced Massage Therapist advised, “If a person walks out the door better than they walked in you’ve done your job”. For me the simplicity of this statement is its genius, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a client’s history/assessment and then want to create large immediate changes; however I find the realistic, gradual shift that someone takes home tends to sit on a more solid foundation. Another piece of advice I use regularly is courtesy of Dr Brent Anderson from Polestar Pilates; he suggests you prepare for every client consult by reciting the mantra, “do good”. Again very simple, yet at times it’s easy to get distracted from why we’re a health professional and this is a reminder that I have found to be helpful. It has even been shown that a good client relationship can play a role in improved clinical outcomes (Kelley et al. 2014). I see a bit of Joe Pilates in these statements too; it’s my belief that having lived in World War One Europe and Depression era New York, Joe saw a lot of people struggling, wanted to help and saw exercise as a way to help (see blog ‘What is Pilates?’).

So as I sit here on the 4th of January, 2017 contemplating the year ahead I have realised the above practices help me to do good things (hopefully?) at the micro level, but what about the ‘greater good’? What about some of the larger global issues that I could play a positive role in?

Here’s to 2017, helping people and doing good,


Kelley, J.M., Kraft-Todd, G., Schapira, L., & Riess, H. (2014). The influence of the patient-clinician relationship on healthcare outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One, 9(4), e94207.