By David Holland, Trainer at FLEX Studios
Can men benefit from improved core strength, flexibility, balance, improved mental focus, and balanced muscle development? UH YEA! These are just a few of the reasons men should be doing Pilates.
Besides, Pilates was created by a man, Joseph Pilates, who formulated the method with men in mind. Joseph, a boxer himself, developed his mat exercises to gain control of the body by fusing mental focus, breath, and physical centering into a dynamic workout. Furthering his system, he then designed his various Pilates equipment (Reformer, chair, etc.), utilizing springs for resistance and support to create an athletic repertoire of movements that challenge even the fittest man.
Here are a few benefits men will experience from a regular Pilates practice:
1. You will protect your body from injury:
The number of professional sports teams (NBA, MLB, NFL) utilizing Pilates grows every year. Sure, teams use Pilates for rehabilitation from injury, but most importantly they use it for injury prevention.
Pilates integration of the trunk, pelvis, and shoulder girdle — with correct spinal and pelvic alignment and smooth flowing movement — allows you to become familiar with functional body mechanics and acutely in tune with your body. The technique ensures that the major joints, including your spine, have full range of motion. Improved flexibility in your muscles allows you to execute quick direction changes — this equals less sprains, strains, or being sidelined by injury. The large muscles of the body as well as the accompanying stabilizers get conditioned so the body is ready for dynamic, explosive movements. In addition, Pilates is low impact, joint-friendly, and scalable to any level of fitness, so it’s a practice one can invest in for a lifetime as a complement to any exercise regimen.
2. Pilates helps improve athletic performance:
Yet another reason why elite athletes (think Tiger Woods) do Pilates is because of the emphasis on deepening core strength. Several exercises utilized in Pilates involve strong rotational movements of the trunk, which are key to developing the strong swing necessary in golf, baseball, tennis, and other sports. Consistent Pilates practice will not only improve your rotational movements, but the continuous abdominal control developed by Pilates will improve stamina and endurance, ultimately giving you the power to run further, swim faster, and cycle harder.
3. Muscle definition:
Because the exercises create balance, you are working more than just the large muscle groups that traditional resistance training focuses on. You are developing the small stabilizing muscles that often get overlooked. Working these muscles helps to create a lean, long, and balanced physique. Some of our muscles, like those that dominate our daily movements, are stronger than others. One of the key elements of Pilates is consciously focusing on eliminating those imbalances.
4. You will look better:
Not only will the resistance training on a Pilates apparatus, such as the one we use at FLEX, the FLEXformer, build beautifully sculpted arms, legs, and abs and improve posture. Pilates develops a strong core — meaning the deep layers of the abdominals and the muscles closest to the spine. Pilates gives you the core strength to stand tall, and the body awareness to know when you aren’t, and to correct it. Standing tall gives off an air of confidence — and confidence looks great on any man.
5. You will feel better:
Do you suffer from pain? Many devotees of Pilates find relief from various pains from the practice (myself included). Pilates exercises are designed to open and align the pelvis, and decompress and strengthen the spine, which gives the appearance of a taller, stronger you, and also relieves pain and stiffness. Runners suffering from hip issues, tight legs, and foot pain will find the technique not only offers improved flexibility and pelvic stability, but strengthens the ankles and feet — the base of all our standing movement. Not to mention the stretching and breathing built into the exercises feels great and helps to release stress. After a tough Pilates session you often feel physically challenged, yet refreshed and relaxed.
Pilates can be especially beneficial for men today. This core-focused training makes Pilates an excellent technique for total body fitness, as well as a foundation for cross-training with other kinds of activities.
So gear up, guys! Get your Pilates on!
David Holland is a Pilates teacher and dancer. As a professional dancer, his varied career spans over 16 years and ranges from Las Vegas revues to concert stages, having performed with several modern dance companies, including Philadanco. His years of dancing and training led to a deep appreciation for physical conditioning, and in Pilates, David has found increased strength, flexibility, and control. Coupled with his love of movement and teaching, David was inspired to go deeper into the method and gained his Smart Workout Pilates certification and continues ongoing education with Balanced Body. As a Pilates teacher at FLEX Studios, David continues to spread the transformative powers of Pilates while leading focused, mindful, anatomically based sessions with a modern spin on the classical exercises.