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 so it 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. Why?
How Pilates can benefit men
Pilates integrates the body by focusing on activating and connecting the strongest parts of the body first – your core. From your core you work your body with integrated movement, connecting all the weaker body parts to your strong core. The whole body becomes stronger as a result. Swimmers, cyclists, weightlifters know this and successfully incorporate the Pilates movement principles in their workouts. Yes, you can lift more weight with confidence – if you know how to activate your core!
The integrative component of Pilates can be especially beneficial for men, whose workouts often emphasize a part-by-part approach to muscular development, such as pumping up isolated muscles of arms, chest and legs, which may lead to muscle imbalance and later injuries. Eg, men typically have big quadricepts but smaller and weaker inner thigh muscles.
Furthermore, the muscles that are normally worked out are typically the “movers” (those that move joints) with little emphasis on the “stabilisers” (those that stabilise them), further increasing the instability of the joints and risk of injury.
As most athletes know, most pain and injuries are the result of muscle imbalance and a lack of flexibility. Weak hip stabilisers may lead to knee problems in long distance runners.
Pilates helps to prevent injuries not only by restoring muscle balance but also by making you more flexible.
Everybody knows that Pilates improves posture, but why is a good posture important to men? Besides the obvious benefits of it reducing pain in the back, neck and shoulders and preventing future health issues, having good posture plays a key role in first impressions. You can even grow an inch or two taller, while your spine is regaining its natural curve! More importantly, good posture yields more energy because it means we’re not fighting gravity.
Pilates complements any sport, and can be incorporated in any training protocol. Simply put, Pilates goes with everything; use Pilates by itself or in combination with anything you already do. When the abdominals are trained and strengthened to activate at the level Pilates brings them to, they make your body work in proper alignment which will increase how hard the rest of your body is working and make those gym sessions more worth your time, with better results.
Are you man enough to try?
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. So where do you start?
>Take a Pilates Mat class, where 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 (your “core”).
>Try the Pilates equipment. By far the most common Pilates equipment class you will come across will be the Pilates Reformer. The resistance based exercises 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.
Whatever you will be doing in a Pilates class, you will be using your core to stabilise while you are doing it. Simply put, that means that you will get an hour of abs every class, no matter what other exercises you are given.