Why Men Should Try Pilates
Why Men Should Try Pilates

Why Men Should Try Pilates


Looking to get fitter and build lean muscle? You’re probably not considering Pilates. But you should be, say the experts. Here’s what they want you to know – and why adherents like David Beckham and LeBron James are onto something…
Photography HEARTCORE

What Exactly Is Pilates?

“Developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates – who initially called his method ‘contrology’ – Pilates is a system of exercise and physical movement that focuses on strengthening the core muscles, improving posture, balance and flexibility. It can be performed on a mat or using specialised equipment, such as the reformer. Using controlled, precise movements and breathwork, Pilates aims to create a seamless connection between the mind and body. As a low-impact workout, it’s adaptable to people of varying ages and fitness levels – men included. For guys, it’s an incredible way to improve strength and sculpt a stellar six pack.” – Roderigo Falato, Pilates teacher at Heartcore

What Are The Benefits?

Reduces Stress: “Pilates is a transformative mind-body workout. The non-stop nature of the workout together with the constant stream of attention needed to retain precision in each movement allows you to switch off and focus just on yourself. Plus, the controlled and slowed-down breathing the workout requires will physically help you reduce stress levels (if you don't believe me, take a moment now to take three very slow, big, deep breaths in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth letting the air sigh out, and notice how much more relaxed you are). Because the workout also strengthens postural muscles and releases tension from tight areas, you can expect to leave a class feeling open, walking taller, and re-energised.” – Roderigo 

Builds Strength: “Pilates complements weight training as it not only strengthens muscle fibres but also lengthens them and supports range of motion, which helps with overall mobility. It’s also a proven way to sculpt a strong core.” – Roderigo 

Improves Athletic Performance: “By working on imbalances that repetitive motions from particular sports can cause, Pilates is a good way to prevent injury. As it strengthens without creating bulk, it won’t interfere with mobility, and will also help with overall flexibility.” – Roderigo 

Supports Posture: “Pilates targets supportive muscles that help us maintain our posture. These muscles maintain the integrity of the joint and prevent injury, which is important as many musculoskeletal issues could be prevented with good posture. Today, with many of us spending longer periods of time in front of a computer, these types of stabilisation muscles can atrophy relatively fast if not stimulated properly.” – Neil Dimmock, co-founder of London Reformer Pilates 

Improves Body Awareness: “Pilates gives you the unique mixture of form and functionality that many other movement practices have stolen. It focuses on postural alignment and body balance, which gives you incredible body awareness. Tuning into your body helps in everyday settings – from driving to sitting at a desk as well as enhancing performance in sports like cycling and golf. Clients tell me Pilates has helped their squat or golf swing, or that they no longer get an aching back at their desk as they know how to align their body better.” – Anaya Grover, founder of Men Do Pilates

What Muscle Groups Does It Work?

“Pilates focuses on the deep stabilising muscles such as the core, rotator cuffs, foot and ankle stabilisers, hip rotators, smaller glute muscles and adductors, which together benefit joint longevity and posture balance. Remember, these are the muscles that work to hold you upright and protect your joints. Men often need more flexibility and Pilates can help with that as it involves dynamic and deep, melting stretches, but it can also give a hit of strength-based, powerful movement, helping you feel like you are working hard. Chances are you’ll feel comfortable and empowered with the familiarity of exercises such as planks, push-ups, squats and lat pull-downs, all of which work major muscle groups.” – Anaya 

Tell Us About Some Of Its A-List Fans…

“Harry Styles, LeBron James and David Beckham are all reportedly fans of Pilates. Cristiano Ronaldo is another one to mention – he has lengthened his football career by mitigating injury and maintaining his athletic frame with Pilates. Other professional sporting clubs are now deploying methods like Pilates that can help players avoid injury.” – Neil 


How Is It Different To Yoga?

“Joseph Pilates was a yoga enthusiast himself. Many of his techniques bring together elements of yoga, gymnastics and callisthenics techniques. But where yoga is great for flexibility and integrating a spiritual experience into physical practice, the focus of Pilates is around the mind and body control necessary to maintain form and stabilisation while various forces and loads are placed on the body. Plus, in yoga, you tend to hold a position, whereas Pilates is all about dynamic movements. For example, imagine doing a push up, but on an unstable surface while focusing on maintaining your form. This extra challenge provides the neuromuscular system with lots of important feedback, resulting in deeper stimulation for both core muscles and those muscles integral to joint health.” – Neil 

So What Happens In A Typical Pilates Class?

“You’ll be led by an instructor, taking you through a series of exercises. If it’s a mat class you’ll be using the mat perhaps with some small equipment such as a resistance band, ball or magic circle. A studio class might involve apparatus such as the reformer. The best thing about Pilates is that it’s inclusive. There are modifications and variations suitable for all levels and abilities. Even if you’re a beginner, you’ll get a great workout.” – Ashlea McKee, Pilates instructor 

What’s The Difference Between Mat & Reformer – Is One More Effective?

“The mat is the heart, soul and foundation of Pilates – without the mat work we wouldn’t have the reformer and all of the other pieces of apparatus. Mat-based Pilates is more accessible as all you need is yourself and a mat. The reformer, on the other hand, focuses on correcting alignment and, by working against the resistance the reformer provides, it’ll help build strength and lean muscle. On the reformer you’ll find springs, leg and arm straps, a box and a footbar, which allow for endless possibilities. Both are as effective as the other but start with the mat to build a strong foundation before moving on to the reformer.” – Ashlea 

How Quickly Will You See Results?

“It’s been said that 12 is the magic number: after 12 classes you’ll see the results. However, you’re likely to feel the results before you see them – think better posture and strength. Some guys will notice their performance in the gym or other sport improves, while others will notice an enhanced ability to bounce back after more challenging workouts in the gym.” – Neil 

“Clients tell me Pilates has helped their squat or golf swing, or that they no longer get an aching back after a day at work.”

Any Tips For Beginners?

Practise At Your Level
“Even if you’re extremely fit and a keen gym goer, put your ego to one side and start with a studio class that’s targeted at beginners. These classes will help you master the basics – you’ll learn how to use your body more effectively and with greater awareness of your form and breath.” – Neil 

Stick With It
“Pilates is all about consistency. If you want to see results, commit to a regular practice. Even ten minutes a day will make a difference both physically and mentally.” – Ashlea 

Be Patient
“If you’re used to high-intensity exercise, Pilates can take a little more concentration and patience, as the exercises are slower paced and more precise. Operating muscles ‘on demand’ can take time, but a good teacher will get you on your way, helping you to understand the methodology behind each exercise and where to concentrate your efforts to achieve the right effect.” – Neil  

For more information, visit PilatesWithAshlea.com, LondonReformerPilates.com, MenDoPilates.com & WeAreHeartcore.com.

SLMan readers can get 15% off a membership at Men Do Pilates using the code SLMAN15.

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SLMan are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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