Pilates was created by a man for men and is a highly beneficial and effective exercise for men.
Peacock Pilates has many male clients and we work with men of all fitness levels and ages from beginners to elite athletes. We help to strengthen and tone your entire body and improve posture, strength and flexibility. Our Pilates sessions achieve body changing results.
For more information on all the many benefits of Pilates for men and why so many famous athletes do Pilates – Steven Gerrard, Andy Murray, Tiger Woods, Gareth Bales, the All Blacks etc., please see our article below that featured in PilatesNearYou – Benefits of Pilates for men.
Benefits of Pilates for Men
Pilates was created by a man for men but, until recently, it was considered a rather female exercise. This is definitely not the case. In fact, I challenge any man to take a Pilates class with a good, experienced teacher and then say it’s only for women.
Who was Joseph Pilates?
The creator, Joseph Pilates, was an alpha male; a cigar-smoking, whisky-drinking boxer, wrestler, body builder and diver, obsessed with human anatomy, strength and form. Having extensively studied yoga and martial arts, he wanted to create an exercise which promoted ultimate body control, strength, flexibility and endurance. Originally named “Contrology”, its ultimate aim was to improve the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.
Pilates initially devised the Reformer (a tortuous looking bed contraption with moving carriage, pulley, straps and spring resistance) to rehabilitate injured bed-bound soldiers interned during the First World War. Rumour has it, that despite the massive 1918 influenza epidemic, none of the soldiers under Joseph’s care died. His body transforming skills were later coveted by the Nazis who wanted him to train the army. So let’s all breathe a sigh of relief (but more on breathing later) that he fled to America, where he continued to develop his body changing techniques.
Benefits for Men
“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises…” – Joseph Pilates
My new male clients often shuffle into my studio somewhat sceptically (and even a little embarrassed) usually following a referral from a surgeon or GP due to an injury. They depart shaken by its rigour and discipline, yet impressed that it is so beneficial and effective. Most continue to do Pilates long after they are rehabilitated and are fighting fit because of it. Once the fundamentals are grasped, it becomes an integral part of their exercise routine and often replaces the gym.
Pilates is not just about learning to exercise properly; it stretches well beyond that. When practiced correctly, it can transform the way you breathe, sit, move, and use your muscles in your every day life.
There are myriad benefits for men, including:
Transforming Core Strength
During gym work, people (typically men) generally focus more on exercising the larger superficial muscles e.g. biceps, triceps, hamstrings, quads etc. Even when crunching and doing sit-ups in the gym, emphasis is placed on the rectus abdominis (six-pack) and obliques (side muscles). Rarely does it go deeper than that. Pilates teaches deep core strength and how to activate the very important muscle, transverse abdominis (the deepest stomach muscle that is like a girdle around the waist).
This deep core strength is essential, not just for aesthetics but primarily to protect your back and to provide pelvic stability. Which each correct breath you take – deeply in through the nose into the back of the rib cage, and out through pursed lips – your deepest stomach muscles are fired up. So as your core strength builds, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights with less risk of back injury. So it’s a double whammy, as you learn how to breathe, you work your stomach and protect your spine.
Breathing and why it’s important
“Above all, learn how to breathe correctly…” – Joseph Pilates
Oxygen is essential for your body and helps burn calories. A deep breath can rid the body of carbon dioxide thereby stimulating and cleansing your internal organs. However deep breathing doesn’t only reap chemical and medical benefits but it enhances fluidity of movement and encourages your shoulders to relax and lower, reducing stress in your upper trapezius. In turn, this improves posture and form. In essence a good breath decompresses and lengthens the spine, engages the stomach, calms the mind and creates fluidity of movement.
“True flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.” – Joseph Pilates
In most workouts, limited emphasis is placed on flexibility, and as muscle mass increases, flexibility is affected. Many male clients start out with tight hamstrings and little movement in the spine. When the larger, more visible muscles are overworked, this can cause muscle imbalances and neglect of the important deep stabilising muscles, in turn leading to injury, stiffness, and overall discomfort. Pilates radically improves your flexibility in a controlled and measurable way while simultaneously building strength. In short, increased flexibility minimises the chance of injury and leads to an increased range of movement and a feeling of greater agility and power.
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” – Joseph Pilates
So you are only as old as your spine. Walking, standing and sitting tall doesn’t just make you feel and look good, but also helps to protect your organs and joints. Slumped over a desk all day can really adversely affect the way you hold your back and spine. Pilates teaches you to engage the correct muscles effectively around the core, back and shoulders thereby improving posture.
Injury rehab and prevention
“Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.” – Joseph Pilates
Pilates is an excellent and safe way to rehabilitate injuries and due to its low impact nature, it strengthens muscles in a controlled way. It teaches you to exercise with a neutral spine i.e. the spinal position between arching your back and tucking your pelvis under. It is also highly functional and you will carry those techniques into other aspects of your life well beyond the Pilates studio. Understanding why and how to achieve a neutral spine is essential: a neutral spine is the most shock absorbent and safe way to exercise.
Excellent complement to other exercises
Many male elite athletes like Tiger Woods, Gareth Bale, the All Blacks, and Andy Murray practice Pilates to complement their chosen sports. However, rest assured, even for us mere mortals, it can act as an excellent foundation for other fitness endeavours. Whether it’s running, weight training, swimming, cycling, rowing and everything in between, we all can benefit from improved form, stronger core and better posture.
So to all you men out there (fit or unfit, game or sceptical), I suggest you jump on to your nearest reformer and enjoy the low men-to-women ratio, and start sculpting your body, the Pilates way. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.