Why Smart Men Do Pilates
My first Pilates instructor was male. My training instructors were both men, and some of the most known and respected Pilates masters are men. Let’s also not forget that Joseph Pilates was, well, male. So why aren’t more men doing Pilates? The first thing that most men say when you tell them they should try Pilates is ‘I thought that was for women?’ Or, my favorite: ‘It’s too easy’. There is a common misconception that Pilates is an exercise method solely for women or dancers. Quite the contrary; in fact, when Joseph Pilates created the method of Contrology, or what we now call Pilates, it was formulated for men. A lot of the archival photos of Pilates show him teaching mostly men.
It has widely been accepted that having a strong core is the key to achieving a more stable spine. All of your power originates from your core and therefore a stronger core, gives you more power. The power to stand taller, cycle farther, run more efficiently, swim longer and so on. Having a strong core-not just ‘six pack abs’, but all of the muscles that make up the ‘core’, helps prevent injury that traditional workouts do not. The emphasis on building a strong cage is one of the fundamentals of the Pilates method and in this way it is unique. The specific exercises promote length in the muscles, proper alignment and optimal functioning of the muscles in conjunction with the organs.
Gone are the days of biceps the size of tires and upper traps that look like logs. There is the idea that ‘the more weight I can lift, the stronger I am’. That isn’t really true. While you may be able to use brut force to lift that 50lb weight, what are you doing to your joints, your neck, your wrists your spine? I can promise you, it’s not good things. All of my male clients have not only told me they see the difference in their physical appearance (they feel longer, leaner and taller), but that they feel inner strength, have more energy and feel less ‘compressed’.
-You will lean out and gain more definition in your muscles because the exercises create balance. You aren’t just working the large muscle groups that traditional weightlifting focus on. You are working all of the tiny little muscles, which help to create that lean long and balanced physique.
-Your posture will improve. Who wouldn’t want to stand up straighter and appear taller? While not giving you actual inches; because of the lengthening nature of the exercises and the strengthening of the core, a Pilates trained body stands taller. Better posture can also alleviate back and neck pain.
-You won’t need to live by the motto of ‘No Pain, No Gain’ anymore. Pilates challenges your muscles without straining the joints so you can practice Pilates well into your Golden Years.
-You are protecting your body from injury. Why do you think so many male athletes do Pilates? They use it to rehab from injury and they also use it to prevent it. LeBron James famously tweeted a photo of himself training on a Reformer during the 2012 Summer Olympics. If a 7ft plus man can feel comfortable doing Pilates, you can too!
-It’s never boring. Traditional gym routines can get monotonous. Legs on Tuesday; arms on Wednesday… Same exercises, same reps, the only thing that may change is the weight. With Pilates, there is an infinite amount of variations of exercises that can be done on each apparatus AND you work the whole body each time you work out.
-You will gain the flexibility and balance that you never thought existed. Most men have very tight muscles; especially the hamstrings. Wouldn’t it be great to touch your toes? OR, how about wouldn’t it be great to not pull said hamstring when bending over to tie your shoe?
-Pilates is wonderful for cross training because it helps build endurance and stamina. And the increased flexibility and improved range of motion will only increase your performance in other forms of fitness.
-You will move through your every day activities with more ease and less pain because of the emphasis on building a strong core.
-You may gain the ability to focus more. Because there is a strong emphasis on focus and doing the exercises correctly, you gain a certain kind of insight to your mind and body that traditional working out does not offer.
As Pilates instructors, we understand that it is really hard for men to break out of the gym mentality. Even if you aren’t a regular gym person, you have an image of what men and exercise should be like or look like. Pilates takes that image and turns it on its head. Pilates can be an amazing eye opener not only into the body but the mind. So men, forget all the preconceived notions that Pilates is just for women and get on that Reformer (or mat or barrel or Cadillac…)!!