Pilates is not an exercise that women do because they like to stretch
The Pilates method was invented by a man, on a man’s body. At various times in his life, Joseph Pilates was a gymnast, diver, body-builder, circus-performer, professional boxer, and self-defence trainer. He developed his method, originally called Contrology, when he worked with injured soldiers helping them to recover and rehabilitate from injuries using his exercises.
Joseph Pilates himself practiced his method and trained many males. The practice was very athletic in nature. It wasn’t until he opened his first studio in New York City that he started to get many injured dances as clients from the dance studios located nearby. And it so happened, that many of his first-generation students were ex-dancers, who infused the practice with the dancer language.
Nowadays Pilates is widely used as a training method by professional athletes including golfers, rugby players, swimmers, runners, tennis and baseball players.
How Pilates can benefit men
Pilates integrates the body by focusing on activating and connecting the deep core musculature. From these deep core stabilisers you work your body “from inside out” connecting the extremities – arms and legs – to your strong core. As a result the whole structure becomes stronger. Swimmers, cyclists, weightlifters know this and successfully incorporate the Pilates movement principles in their workouts. You can lift more weight with confidence, when you know how to activate your core!
The integrative component of Pilates can be especially beneficial for men, whose often work out their bodies “part-by-part”, for example, pumping up isolated muscles of arms, chest and legs. Workouts are often focused on developing those “moving” muscles with little emphasis on the “stabilisers” that are necessary to provide a strong foundation for the move.
As most athletes know, most pain and injuries are the result of muscle imbalance and a lack of flexibility. Pilates helps to prevent injuries not only by restoring muscle balance but also by making you more flexible.
Pilates places a great emphasis on improving posture. A better posture reduces the incidence of back pain, relieves tension in neck and shoulders, makes you breathing easier, helps to keep the internal organs in their natural position without compression – and simply make you look good and confident.
How to start with Pilates training
Pilates complements any sport, and can be incorporated in any training protocol.
The classical Pilates method contained a series of over 500 mat or equipment based exercises which, in contemporary Pilates, has been adapted to include the latest research in the physiotherapy and sports and exercise science.
If possible, start with a one-on-one Pilates class. Each of our bodies are uniquely shaped by everyday activities from how we sleep at night and how we exercise (or don’t). Personalized Pilates training applies the intelligent consciousness of Pilates movement to YOUR unique body. This is especially relevant if you look to Pilates to address specific injuries or postural issues. A qualified Pilates practitioner will assess your present condition, evaluate muscle imbalances and design a tailored exercise programme.
In addition, you will learn lots of practical and deep body lessons that will help you understand your physical self and improve how you move through life.
Then take a Group class, on a Mat or Reformer. You will be led through a series of exercises that move your trunk through all planes of motion: flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation, while emphasising the engagement of the trunk stabiliser muscles. The resistance provided by the springs of the Reformer extend the challenge to muscles of arms and legs while maintaining emphasis on core stabilisers – thus helping to imprint safe and efficient movement patterns into your muscle memory.