It’s All About Strength
Rather than being an easy option, Pilates has always been about building strength, explains Gaby Noble, founder of Exhale Pilates and head of Pilates at the Khera-Griggs Cleanse Clinic at Urban Retreat. “The creator of Pilates was a male German fitness instructor, boxer and self-defence coach named Joseph Pilates. He opened his ‘body conditioning’ gym in New York in 1926 to teach people how to achieve strength through better body control.” Elite athletes have long loved Pilates – Tiger Woods, Andy Murray and David Beckham are all fans – while it’s an integral part of the training regimes of the England, Wales and New Zealand rugby teams.
It’s Totally Different To Yoga
Before you dismiss Pilates as another form of mat-based stretching, think again. “Pilates is a completely different ball game to yoga,” Gaby explains. “Where yoga promotes flexibility and spirituality, Pilates is all about strength and controlled movement. A huge part of this comes down to how the breath is used: in Pilates, we focus on the exhale to strengthen a muscle, while yogic breath is used to promote stillness and calm. Pilates focuses on more flowing, dynamic movement, whereas yoga holds poses for longer periods of time, which can actually push the body beyond a safe position, often resulting in injury if the client isn’t strong enough to stabilise properly.”
It’s A Proper Workout
Pilates is the kind of workout that won’t leave you on your knees, but you’ll feel it the day after. “When performed properly with strong breath work, Pilates can absolutely be considered a cardio workout,” Gaby explains. “It certainly burns fat and is a great way to stay in shape with no equipment if you are looking for something low impact. Your average Pilates session can burn anywhere between 350 and 600 calories.”
It Can Boost Mental Health
“Pilates was originally called ‘Contrology’ – a series of exercises to control the body,” says Gaby. “It’s this slow, controlled movement that is great for promoting mindfulness. Pilates requires you to really focus on the connection between your body and breath, essentially bringing you to the present. After a session, you will feel grounded, balanced, strong and significantly clearer-headed.”
It Supports The Male Physique
As Gaby explains, most men have tight hips, shoulders and lower backs – areas Pilates focuses on and works to correct. “Men tend to dominate through their chest and quads, which forces the body forward, wreaking havoc with posture. Pilates in its original form takes the body, especially the spine, through a whole range of movement, releasing tightness from over-dominant muscle groups,” she explains.
It Can Prevent Injuries
“The increasing popularity of Pilates among men is undoubtedly due to successful male athletes attributing their longevity in sport to Pilates, saying it minimises their chances of injury and keeps them supple with a strong core,” says Gaby. By stretching major muscle groups and lengthening the body, Pilates can prevent injuries and muscle strains as well as increasing range of motion.
It Boosts Athletic Performance
“Pilates is the ticket to a deeper level of fitness. It’s the missing link in many people’s training,” reckons Gaby. Researchers agree: a recent study found men who did a one-hour Pilates class three times a week for ten weeks experienced significant gains in strength that enabled them to improve their step-up and leg-press performance. Over time, weight training can cause body imbalance, postural issues, back and hip pain and overall tightness; Pilates works to alleviate these imbalances by properly aligning your body to sustain the demands placed on it.
It’ll Continue To Challenge You
Joseph Pilates once said it takes ten sessions of Pilates to feel the difference, 20 to see the difference and 30 sessions to sculpt an entirely new body. “One of the best things about Pilates is that it never gets any easier and provides a constant challenge,” says Gaby. “As you understand precisely what is required in each exercise, the more challenging it becomes – that becomes an addiction in itself. I’ve had so many male clients come in with an injury then stick with it once they had recovered.”
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