It is a sad fact that there are more women than men at Pilates classes and yet the benefits of Pilates are for everyone.
Joseph Pilates created the Pilates Method (consisting of 37 exercises) and called his system of fitness 'Contrology'. He was an athlete, body builder, circus performer, model, boxer, wrestler. Such was Pilates reputation for health and fitness he was asked to come to the UK from him home in Germany to train the Police in self defence.
Pilates was a prisoner of war during the First World War and worked with sick German soldiers to help them to rehabilitate and successfully recover from their injuries through his system of exercises.
Here is a picture of Pilates at two different stages of his life:-
Pretty amazing eh?
So why is Pilates not so popular with men?
Perhaps it is the thought of exercising with lots of women in a class although I know that women love men to be there too. Maybe men think Pilates too easy, that it is for dancers or just dull, boring and not manly enough. Perhaps men prefer to lift weights, run or play sports rather than lying on a mat for an hour just lifting their body weight.
WHAT DO SOME MEN WHO GO TO PILATES CLASSES SAY ABOUT IT?
Pilates is not a gentle exercise nor an easy option.
It is a training vehicle for athletes.
Great for cross-training with other sports and exercises.
Can't get the same results from just going to the gym.
Gives a trim waist and muscular arms.
Pilates is physically hard, needs good form and posture.
Pilates is a hard workout but not painful as it's low impact.
WHY MEN SHOULD DO PILATES
Male bodies have a tendency to be tight and stiff due to high levels of testosterone that increases muscle mass. Going to Pilates classes improves flexibility by re-balancing the muscle groups that have got over used doing other sports - such as weight lifting and running.
When larger muscles get too big they take over the work of the smaller muscles that maintain flexibility, posture, balance and alignment. The brain recognises the muscle imbalance and puts the 'breaks on' by reducing the range of motion of the joints, tendons and ligaments to prevent injury. Eventually, the body begins to seize up, flexibility is reduced and that is when injuries start to happen.
THE BENEFITS OF PILATES FOR MEN:
Improves core strength or the Pilates Powerhouse.
Help with balance.
Creates a lean, toned and supple physique.
Reduces stress and anxiety.
Improves focus because of the concentration needed to do the exercises.
Uniform development of the muscles.
More efficient movement patterns.
More able to move gracefully with control.
Improved range of motion of joints and muscles.
Improved mental and physical relaxation.
Less prone to injury.
Increased internal strength.
Increased range of motion of the smaller, intricate supporting muscles
Pilates makes you feel taller, broader and leaner.
PILATES AND WEIGHT TRAINING
Pilates classes means that you can lift more weights because of the deep muscles being strengthened in the core or Powerhouse. Men who do Pilates are more aware of how their bodies move and which muscles to engage to complete the movement.
PILATES AND RUNNING
Going regularly to Pilates classes as a runner helps with hip, knee and ankle alignment which can be affected by running many miles on hard tarmac. The joints get jolted and this can cause pain and discomfort. The body's reaction is to protect and will utilise the larger muscles to compensate and this is when knee, hips and ankles injuries start to appear. Pilates re-builds the smaller muscles to protect the joints and builds a strong core - Powerhouse to drive the body forward. Posture is also improved so that the runner remains upright and able to run faster and more efficiently.
PILATES AND GOLF
Pilates classes increase the range of motion of the joints so that balance is improved to help with the golf swing. The core is strengthened so that the twisting motion going into the swing is improved and also prevents lower back injuries which golfers are prone. Pilates classes improves hip stability, focus and concentration.
And finally - PILATES IMPROVES FLEXIBILITY.