Pilates and Men


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Pilates and Men / Pilates for Men

"The more I got into it (Pilates) and the more I understood it, the better off I felt. And then the thing was, I just wanted to keep doing it."
Jason Kidd, NBA Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach and former Triple-Double Threat NBA Champion

Is Pilates for Men?

The surge of popularity that Pilates has enjoyed since the 1990s has been driven to a large extent by a wave of women participants, leaving some with the impression that Pilates is just for women. But men have always used Pilates training with great performance results.

Pilates was in fact created by a man, Joseph Pilates. Pilates was a "guys' guy." He liked boxing, whiskey, women, and Cuban cigars. Pilates was a professional boxer, skier and gymnast.

Pilates originally trained athletes - boxers (Pilates trained Max Schmeling for his fight against Joe Louis in 1936), gymnasts, circus performers and dancers. He used Pilates to help injured soldiers’ rehabilitation and was recruited to train the German military. When Pilates immigrated to New York, he opened his gym at the site of the old Madison Square Garden.

"I really enjoy Pilates because aside from just the strength that you build, it really teaches body awareness and coordination, which is essential to diving."
Nick McCrory, 2012 Bronze Medalist, 10m Platform Synchronized Diving(About.com.Health July 3, 2012)

Why Pilates Works for Men

No matter their sport, whether a professional, amateur or occasional athlete, men find that Pilates’ emphasis on whole-body fitness gives them what they need to perform injury-free with endurance and strength.

Traditional workouts are based on isolating muscles and working each area of the body individually rather than treating the body as an integrated whole. Traditional training methods create an unbalanced muscular structure as certain body parts are strengthened while others are neglected.

By contrast, Pilates focuses on whole-body fitness beginning with strengthening core muscles to improve endurance and performance. Pilates emphasizes moving from the center of the body and developing core strength in the deep muscles of the center to stabilize the trunk and protect the back. This core training makes Pilates an excellent technique for whole-body fitness as well as a foundation for cross training with other kinds of sports.

"When you get older you have to get smarter. It's really helped [my] flexibility. That was a big thing for me. I wanted to make sure with going back to first base that I would be prepared. I feel looser. I feel lighter."
Jim Thome, Philadelphia Phillies (The Morning Call, Feb 25, 2012)

Man on a Pilates reformer. Pilates for Men.
Pilates also helps men improve their breathing, increase their flexibility, muscle control and balance - all components of most sports. Flexibility is an essential part of Pilates and is especially important for men, who tend to have tighter muscles than women. To this end, Pilates exercises seek to increase strength, flexibility and range of motion. Pilates movements are flowing, dynamic stretches. Stretching with movement eliminates the pain of holding a stretch, and improved flexibility is a critical part of injury prevention and injury recovery.

Pilates’ ultimate goal is to help men work toward functional fitness - the combination of strength, balance and flexibility that allows them to move through workouts, competition and even daily tasks with grace and ease. Men might find that their muscles are tighter than women’s, but exercises can be modified easily to allow those areas to stretch out gradually.

"Don’t make the same mistake I did by looking at a Pilates class and thinking "It’s not for me." It is for you. It is for everyone, you just have to try it. I guarantee that in two weeks you will feel great and in three weeks you will feel better and stronger than ever before. For me the proof was in the pudding. It has become an absolutely essential part of my year-round conditioning. I can’t even imagine not doing it anymore."
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback

Carson Palmer is a major advocate for Pilates. This quote is an excerpt from an interview with Carson Palmer on Pilates.com. You can read the interview in its entirety here.