Pilates for men.
Jade Anderson | Reformer Pilates & PT, OPUS.
Pilates. It is my answer to everything nowadays. I believe it should form part of everyone’s basic training. But as a pilates instructor for the last 7 years, I have wondered why are so few men doing Pilates?
In conversations, I generally hear one of the following three reasons.
Pilates is for women.
Pilates was actually developed by a man, Joseph Pilates (Hence the name). He was a boxer, circus performer and body builder in his early life. Fast forward 100 years later, Pilates has grabbed the attention of some of the top athletes around the world. From basketballer’s, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant; top golfer Tiger Woods; Tennis champion Andy Murray and footballer David Beckham.
Pilates is stretching - therefore it is easy.
Pilates can be adapted to suit the needs of every individual. It can be tailored towards increased performance, increased mental focus, injury rehabilitation, specific sporting activities or general everyday lifestyle improvement. A good trainer understands the level required for each person, and accordingly make the sessions easier or harder - and trust me, they can be hard!
Pilates is used for injury rehabilitation.
Yes, Pilates is a great tool for rehabilitation, but also for prevention. As humans, it’s natural for us to find ourselves in certain postures for long periods of time (think sitting at desks or manual jobs which require repetitive lifting or carrying), and these can result in overusing specific muscles. If this continues, over time the pathway is often acute or chronic injuries. Pilates is one of the perfect ways to maintain balance through our various muscles.
So, with so many men still to try their hand at Pilates, here are 6 Reasons why I think men should be signing up for classes!
1) Fix your posture.
According to a recent study from Arthritis Research UK around 5.5 million people are living with back pain - and that's in England alone! By their very nature, Pilates exercises promote changes in habitual posture, and we know that this can have a direct link to back pain. ‘Good’ posture involves holding our bodies in such a way that any strain or tension is balanced between our muscles and supportive structures. Pilates exercises help to do just that, they rebalance the musculoskeletal system and re-train movement patterns.
2) Spinal health for everyday life.
Our spine gives the body structure and support; and the movement, stability and alignment of the spine is an essential focus in Pilates. The exercises focus on developing a healthy spine which is able to move in all six directions without restriction (although this can take some time!).
3) Mental health - Control and discipline.
In November 2020, The Mental Health Foundation published that nearly 6000 suicides were recorded in Great Britain in 2017. Of these, 75% were men. The principles of Pilates are breath, control, concentration, centre, precision and flow - all of which can take you out of your body and create a sense of focus and calm. If we create the right environment, we can retrain the brain into better thought patterns and help our clients to feel good about themselves. Deep breathing techniques in Pilates brings a meditative aspect to training, which helps us to destress. I want to educate our clients to use correct and safe form, leaving no part of the body unattended - and breathing is a large part of it.
4) Movements to suit all training.
As a Pilates instructor and personal trainer, a great future is seeing everybody using elements of Pilates in their basic training for, well, everything. By understanding our natural biomechanics at a deeper level, we can increase everyday movement quality and physical performance quicker - and I feel that Pilates is the key ingredient.
5) Better core, hip and shoulder functionality.
The ‘core’ muscles are known as the “powerhouse” in the Pilates world. That is the epicentre of our bodies which is where many of our movements are generated. A strong powerhouse helps us to control the pelvis and spine while the limbs move. Pilates exercises help us to focus on deep abdominal strengthening which is too often missed in general training. Lifting weights, running or picking up our kids requires strong hips and shoulders, and Pilates is the perfect way to reach optimal function around these joints, too!
6) Strength benefits for sports.
As I mentioned above, Pilates now plays a huge role in elite sports. Whether you are a gymnast, tennis player or a runner, Pilates can improve specific biomechanical movements by ensuring correct firing patterns between muscles. Developing strength in our deeper muscles and training multi-directional movements means that the exercises can transfer over to our favourite sports.
Pilates at OPUS isn’t Pilates in its purest form. Our classes are dynamic in nature and focus on building deep strength with higher volume and multiple sets on each muscle group. Our carefully curated classes are a nod to classical Pilates, with strength techniques thrown into the mix for a more rounded workout. Alongside our sequenced exercises, an energetic playlist is a must for us and will feature in every session!