If you think Pilates is only for women, think again! The toughest male sports athletes including football, basketball and tennis players do Pilates workouts faithfully to maintain a fit and strong body. However, the same principles that make Pilates effective for men also apply to women making it one of the most popular workouts around.
The Pilates advantage is that it offers an intense muscular workout focusing on controlled muscle movements. The fluidity of motion and precision of exercises that Pilates requires translates into a gentle low-impact workout which can be done sitting or lying down.
“Pilates improves sports performance. You’ll find the exercises condition the whole body—even the ankles and feet, which contribute to healthy, balanced muscles,” claims Madi Rice, writer for The Parks fitness website. “You’ll also increase in tendon, bone and ligament strength which is vital for all athletes.”
Many people don’t realize that in addition to being a great workout, Pilates is also an effective form of physical therapy. It has been shown to help people with various injuries and diseases rehabilitate their bodies. The low-impact and focused method of muscle strengthening with emphasis on the core can help people who are recovering from car accidents, cancer, athletic injuries and even those living with multiple sclerosis.
“What most guys are doing now, they’re using it as a preventative measure, so it’s almost like ‘prehab’ in a sense,” former NFL player Nate Burleson said. “Most guys, especially if you’ve been in the league for a while, your off day is a subtle work day. You’re doing some type of work to keep your body as loose and limber as possible.”
Tennis star Andy Murray recently credited Pilates for his comeback: “It’s helped my back a lot,” Murray said. “I feel physically much healthier with my back than I did at this time last year. It’s not just that – my tennis has been good as well – but it’s been a big, big factor for me.”
The reason that both men and women alike love Pilates is because it provides great results. “It’s not like weight training . . . it’s all about control and body position, which receivers like myself need the most,” Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown said.
Pilates was intended not only for mat work but also on equipment. Throughout his life, Joseph Pilates created many forms of apparatus to practice his “contrology” exercises. In addition to workouts on the mat, there are a multitude of exercises which can be done on various pieces of Pilates equipment including the ladder barrel, the Wunda chair, the Cadillac and the Reformer. These pieces of equipment offer a wide range of additional Pilates exercises not possible on the mat.
The Pilates Power Gym, a mini Pilates reformer machine created by Kevin Abelbeck, incorporates the best of both worlds, combining the targeted aspects of Pilates with strength training that appeals to both men and women.
“This Pilates equipment [reformer] is basically a platform that moves on a linear track,” explains Abelbeck. “So what I had to do was to come up with a way to increase the tension other than just with the springs… I made an incline.” As a result, men and women can get an intense workout on this type of Pilates reformer with its three levels of height elevation.
With repeated practice of Pilates, the muscles of men and women become toned and sculpted. “Muscles you don’t even realize you have you can work with Pilates because you can target and tone specific little muscle groups,” says Pilates and yoga instructor, Kristin McGee. “The beautiful thing about Pilates is it gives you that long, lean muscle tone because you’re working with that nice fluid movement and control.”
Sign up for the Pilates Power Gym newsletter and receive instant access to our FREE online Pilates class