It is 2020, and we know people now realise that Pilates isn’t just for women. You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from us physios – partly because we can finally (almost) move on from the long-overplayed “so you think Pilates is a girls’ thing? well then let me tell you about Joseph Pilates…” rhetoric, but mainly because we are finally seeing the benefits of Pilates being recognised by the wider public and how it is becoming increasingly common across different demographics.
While Pilates is hardly a gender-specific/focused exercise routine, it is worthwhile mentioning how its application can benefit men nonetheless. From the amateur weekend warrior to professional athletes, principles of Pilates have been firmly incorporated in their weekly schedules, training, and recovery sessions; here are some of the reasons why.
Reformer Pilates involves various three dimensional movements, working the length and elasticity of your muscles and encourages your joints to be able to move through the biggest possible range, thus reducing your likeliness of injury.
The origin of most aches and pains is bad posture. Every Pilates exercise you do will have a postural benefit due to the combination of challenging your strength and flexibility. Pilates will develop muscular balance in your joints which will improve your posture.
Your core is the combination of muscles that support your spine and torso, forming the foundation for all movements. A weak core causes instability and reliance on dominant muscles, which over time inhibits flexibility, reduce range of movement and ultimately cause injury. Pilates promotes core activation and engages all of your postural muscles leading to more stable and powerful movements. Consider a tennis player who has to return a powerful serve while moving and contorting their bodies: for them to be able to generate the adequate force on their return they must have good core strength.
Addressing Muscular Imbalances
Some of your muscles, like those that dominate your daily movements, are stronger than others, and a huge emphasis of Pilates is focusing on those muscles that don’t typically get a lot of attention. Pilates requires you to consciously move in certain ways to challenge muscles that you don’t hit while lifting heavy weights in the gym, running or in your daily life.
Awareness, Concentration and Focus
Pilates forces you to pay attention to your body, you’ve got to focus on your breath while working through each movement and concentrating on proper form and activating the correct muscles. This significantly enhances your body control and awareness (Thus improving your balance as well) which are both fundamental skills to maintaining sporting performance.
The reason that Pilates is fundamentally such an all-encompassing, well-rounded approach to exercise and body movement is precisely the reason why it could – and should – be incorporated in most people’s routine. Its minimal requirement of equipment and space makes it a very versatile option for a quick, mobile workout, and the gains from Pilates almost always translate across to other aspects of one’s wellbeing as well. More and more men are slowly realising its benefit and the conversations with their physios are certainly a lot different to what it was a few years ago.
It is 2020. It is no longer a misunderstanding, and it is no longer just a trend.