There is a huge misconception that Pilates is a ‘feminine’ style of workout, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Real. Men. Do. Pilates. But who are these “real men” I hear you say? Well to name a few; Tennis World #1 – Andy Murray, 2016 World Rugby Player of the Year – Beauden Barrett, Cowboys/Maroons/Australian Rugby League legend – Jonathan Thurston, 3x World Surfing Champion and Great White puncher – Mick Fanning, the list goes on… seriously; Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Eamon Sullivan… Hopefully that’s got your attention gents.
Joseph Pilates was also a Real Man. A beer drinking, cigar smoking, gun totting, boxer who lived to be 84. No not only did he have a six pack under his shirt, I imagine he also had a cold one in the fridge! Pilates developed his method during the First World War by ripping the springs off hospital beds and turning them into exercise equipment for injured soldiers to use as rehab. It doesn’t get any manlier than that.
Pilates isn’t just for elite athletes though, it’s good for all men, both young and old, regardless of your current (armchair/) athletic abilities. Issues that most men grapple with – whether they realise it or not – are poor posture, a compressed spine, decreased vitality, a thick waistline, and a general lack of understanding about their own physical bodies and how they best operate. Pilates provides an excellent solution to all these challenges.
So why the perception that Pilates is ‘feminine’? Well even though men have always been part of the Pilates scene, the initial surge in popularity was through the female dominated dance and performance fraternity who were quickest to realise its benefits. This then powered a wave of women participants and instructors, which over time leads us to today where classes are female-dominated and leaving some with the impression that the Pilates method is more for women. This is gradually changing however and men are definitely taking advantage of Pilates’ many benefits. For men, the key benefits of regular Pilates practice are as follows:
1. CORE STRENGTHENING
Procuring and maintaining a strong core should be an essential part of everyone’s fitness regime, it underpins everything you do, particularly in your lower spine. Having a strong core goes a long way to preventing those niggling back injuries that become ever more prevalent as we age. And every Pilates exercise focuses on using your core to power movement in your limbs, this is the principal advantage that all Pilates participants soon benefit from.
2. IMPROVED POSTURE
Due to the long hours now spent contorted over their work stations, modern man is suffering more and more from the effects of having a poor posture (headaches, back and neck pain, etc.). Pilates improves your posture by strengthening the muscles that support your spine and joints.
3. FOCUS ON NEGLECTED MUSCLES
100 bicep curls a day might sound impressive, but there are 639 other muscles in your body that also need some attention. Some of your muscles, like those that dominate your daily movements, are stronger than others, and a big part of Pilates is focusing on muscle groups that don’t typically get a lot of attention. As anyone who has done Pilates will testify, you’ll soon discover muscles you didn’t know existed!
4. IMPROVED FLEXIBILITY
Not only does Pilates strengthens muscles, but it also stretches and lengthens them. This increased range of motion helps prevent muscle strains and injuries and will also keep your joints in top working order. This is the reason many professional athletes practice Pilates alongside their training.
5. IMPROVED BODY AWARENESS & EFFICIENCY OF MOVEMENT
Whether you’re an athlete or an office worker, everyone’s body can work with more efficiency and ease. Pilates forces you to pay attention—you’ve got to focus on your breath while working through each movement and concentrating on proper form. After a couple of Pilates sessions, this style of efficient movement transfers to your everyday life, be it how you’ll stand up out of bed in the morning, through to the way you’ll stand while swinging a golf club.
Despite being developed almost 100 years ago, Pilates is perfectly designed to deal with modern man’s stressful life. Pilates brings breathing techniques, concentration and body awareness into its exercises, all effective tools for the war on stress. Many of the men who attend our classes at Oxygen Pilates do so as a way to relieve stress, as well as complement their other physical goals.
7. BETTER SEX
Pilates strengthens the core and the pelvic floor, and men who practice it have greater control of this region of the body… need I say more?
So what’s it like being a man going to Pilates classes? Well for one, even though we have male instructors and plenty of male clients at both our Maroochydore and Nambour studios, you will most likely have to deal with being the minority gender. But don’t let this fool you that it will be gentle/passive experience and not challenging enough. Most men think Pilates is easy and they’re not going to get the kind of workout they feel when they do gym. But I guarantee a session at Oxygen Pilates will leave you feeling like you’ve had a really good workout and with plenty of muscle fatigue. The best way to start learning about Pilates is by taking a class.
The thing is, unless you work in manual construction, or are a farmer or something like that, modern life is sedentary – and we all must find ways to fit some sort of exercise into our daily lives. Whether you’re an office worker, a manual worker or a retiree who wants to keep active, building Pilates into your fitness routine delivers muscle strength and control, postural improvements, flexibility, helps prevent injury and helps fine-tune your performance (in whatever pursuit that may be).
Pilates is the perfect compliment to everything else that I do, whether it’s surfing, playing with the kids, or working, Pilates prepares me for everything else, and also helps to de-stress. Pilates isn’t unmanly, but even if it was, I’d still go for the benefits.