top of page

Making Space; Addition by Subtraction

I know that I am in good company when I share that, after the New Year, I felt the desire to start purging some clutter in my home. I've never struggled with getting rid of things, and in fact, I often joke that maybe I'm a little too good at it. But there is just something so refreshing about making space in our lives, especially when things start to feel overwhelming or busy.

I honestly can't remember where I heard this phrase, but it's always stuck with me because of it's simplicity and also powerful truth: Addition by Subtraction. It was a phrase in some article that spoke about the technique of looking to remove things from our lives that were no longer serving us, instead of asking ourselves to keep starting new habits or adding more. I think we tend to think we always need more. More vegetables, more push-ups, read more books, go on more walks. And these are all so good. But...what if we also looked at how we could remove things from our life to create some more space?

It's sort of like the other side of the coin. Both are valuable ways at approaching health and wellness, but I think we (or at least I) tend to look more to what I can add instead of subtract. And who doesn't want a little more space in their lives?

In the same sense, I think this is one of the big reasons I have always been drawn to Pilates. Joesph Pilates was a very big advocate of "quality over quantity". As a result, he never prescribed more than 8-10 repetitions of any exercise in his original book Return to Life. And I often joke, if you don't like an exercise we are doing, don't worry, it will be over soon!

In my teaching, I have been more interested lately in stripping down the exercises that are bringing a lot of challenge to a client. Sometimes something as simple as slowing down during an exercise can tell you a lot. I also really enjoy turning to the Fundamental exercises, that were created by Eve Gentry, a student and pilates teacher trained by Mr. Pilates himself. The Fundamentals can be thought of as "pre-pilates" exercises. They are very basic movements that can really reveal a lot about what is going on with the body. In the same way I purge my basement to see what the heck is even going on down there anymore, the Fundamentals help me to make a little more space, to simplify things, and see the bigger picture a little more clearly.

If you're feeling stuck in your workouts, or something isn't clicking, maybe try this idea and see what happens. Pick one exercise, but do it slowly. Try simplifying things. See what happens. Be curious. And if you haven't already, subscribe to my mailing list at and you'll be the first to know when I create a video with some of my favorite Fundamental exercises.

Sometimes, when we are purging our basement, or simplifying an exercise, there doesn't always have to be an immediate why (although sometimes that does help motivate you to try). Sometimes, though, we make space just to see what might want to arrive in it's place. It might be more peace of mind. Or deeper breaths. A deeper understanding. We don't always know what we are looking for when we make space or simplify something, but the outcome usually tends to be something good.

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page