I’ve been teaching Pilates for seven years and usually my class is 90-100% women. I started asking myself why more men don’t see the benefit of Pilates? So, I asked a few of my male friends, and here’s what I found.
The 2 main reasons why men don’t think Pilates is for them are:
1. Dumbbells and big biceps are for ‘real’ men
If you’re not pumping iron or running marathons, some men think you’re not really exercising. They’re fixated on building certain muscles – biceps, pecs – and think that’s what fitness is. Anything else, they say, is for wimps!
2. It’s too easy – it’s a women’s thing
If you haven’t ever done Pilates, it can look ‘easy’. Men look at the subtle twists and slow movements involved and imagine that it’s not really doing anything to build strength. Naturally, I disagree. The myth that Pilates is only for women is just that. A myth. After all, the Pilates Method was invented by a man. And Joseph Pilates was no wimp. A skilled gymnast, skier, boxer and self-defence expert, Joseph developed Pilates to keep his body strong and survive incarceration during WWI.
6 great reasons why men should do Pilates
In response to some men’s objections that Pilates is not for them, here are 6 reasons why Pilates is the perfect workout for men.
1. Pilates builds strength and uniform development
Many men spend hours every week lifting weights, building-up the larger muscle groups. Unfortunately, they neglect other important muscles that are essential for overall strength. Pilates builds strength in every part of the body. In fact, many men find Pilates quite challenging when they first start. They’re surprised at how little flexibility they have. I’m happy to reassure them that though it takes a little time, real improvement is possible with regular Pilates practice.
Physical fitness is the first requisite to happiness.
Joseph H. Pilates
2. Pilates increases flexibility
These days many of us are living a sedentary life. We don’t move enough and that has a serious impact on our health and longevity. I’ve recently watched a great animation about the dangers of our sedentary life. It says it all. Without flexibility we feel stiff and sore. And no amount of pumping iron will help. In fact, it can make a stiff spine and neck even worse.
I’m teaching people to maintain a flexible spine so the other parts of their body - joints, tissues and ligaments - can do their job.
3. Pilates helps prevent and repair injuries
Back pain, particularly pain in the lower back, is a problem for everybody. It’s often due to jobs that involve sitting for hours at a time. Men are also prone to having knee and hip issues as they get older. If they’ve been involved in any sport, they’re sure to have wear and tear problems that need help.
Pilates helps strengthen your body’s structure and support weaknesses that may have developed over years of neglect. Through resistance exercises, it strengthens bones and builds muscles to prevent further injury.
4. Pilates improves posture and builds a strong core
A lot of people think Pilates is only about building strong core strength. It certainly does that. But it does so much more. A strong, flexible spine is our ally. Without ease of movement and good posture, we can easily injure ourselves.
When men first come to Pilates classes, they think it’s slow. They’re impatient for progress. And it’s true. It can take time to undo the damage and neglect that’s accumulated in your body over years. We’re teaching the body new movement patterns. Over time, better posture and strong core strength will make all the difference.
5. Pilates develops neglected muscles not usually utilised in alternate fitness
Many men spend a lot of time lifting weights, building-up the larger muscle groups. Unfortunately, they neglect other important muscles that are essential for overall strength. Pilates builds strength in every part of the body. I’m not saying you don’t need aerobic fitness. Running, walking, swimming all play a part in maintaining our body.
But Pilates focuses very specifically on muscles, ligaments and tendons to build strength and maintain flexibility, so necessary for ease of movement.
6. Pilates reduces stress
A lot of men in our society are suffering. Sadly, men lead the way in deaths by suicide. Many men find it hard to relax and respond well to the steady progress they make during Pilates. The men I teach are finding it empowering to have better control over their bodies. They enjoy feeling more supported and strong through movement.
As well as working with them to create better body alignment and strength, I also teach deep and directional breathing. This is great for relaxation. It helps you cope with the everyday demands of life.
Now’s the time! Join us
I recently started a five-week introductory Pilates class for men. It’s aimed at people who’ve never done Pilates, or they’ve done group classes at their local gym. Recently, after my first all-male class, some of the participants thanked me and said that the session was much harder than they expected. I think they also realised that they were less flexible than they thought.
If you haven’t tried it before, now’s the time to learn about all the benefits of Pilates. Get in touch for the latest class times.