Calling All Men . . . To Pilates!
By Nancy Hawkins Rigg,
Pilates may be one of the most misunderstood exercise forms. Without the benefit of thousands of years of history like Yoga, or a straightforward purpose like running, Pilates leaves many people curious. This may be why men tend to shy away from alternative forms of exercise that they are unsure of.
Is Pilates useful for men? Pilates was started by a man, Joseph Pilates, for men. He was a boxer and fitness enthusiast. Pilates has been a training vehicle for elite athletes, both men and women, for over 50 years. Men have been prominent figures as instructors, educators, and promoters of this exercise method throughout its history. Though men have always played a large role in the Pilates practice, the surge of popularity of the practice has been powered largely by a wave of women participants and educators, leaving some with the impression that Pilates is more for women. It is one of the fastest growing fitness trends in the world, and men are definitely taking advantage of the many benefits of Pilates.
What is “the true Pilates experience?” A good session will massage your entire body from the inside out. You should feel refreshed and invigorated at the end. Every move you make will become constructive exercise, whether getting in and out of your car, walking across the room or reaching a top shelf, because you are using your body correctly. You will feel better, look better and sleep better. Joseph’s goal was not that you spend hours in the gym every week, but that you train your body to function correctly, get the juices flowing in the proper direction, breathe and live a healthy life.
5 reasons men should do Pilates:
Develop often neglected muscle groups
Men tend to focus on larger and mainly upper body muscles. Pilates reaches the intrinsic or smaller muscles that are vital for support. Joseph himself choreographed exercises that suited his body type and had to remind himself to strive for balance in the body.
The focus on stretching helps prevent injury, muscle strain and imbalance. This focus increases range of motion and muscular “fluidity”. Men tend to have tighter muscles, which hinders flexibility.
By increasing core strength, it powers movement from the center of the body to the limbs.
Live more consciously
By paying attention to your body and your movement, you create new neural pathways. Men like to focus on the amount of weight being lifted. By isolating specific smaller muscle groups it maximizes the effect of the movement. Be present and in the moment. This will reduce your stress level.
By increasing strength in the core and pelvic floor muscles, you will have greater control of that region.
3 Tips for men who are new to Pilates:
Take classes. Come on in and start learning today. If you are already in a class, ask the instructor if you can try something new in the practice.
There is nothing specifically different about Pilates training for men. The method is the same for all. Developed on a man’s body and taught with input from both men and women, Pilates is founded on healthy movement principles for the human body in general. Men might find that they are a little tighter in the hips and hamstrings than women, but exercises can easily be modified to allow these areas to stretch out gradually.
Finally, Pilates is a mind/body practice that goes beyond the superficial muscles and requires more subtle attention and micro-adjustments than some men are used to finding in a traditional exercise class. There is no “just power through” attitude that men might be used to in gyms. When working with the Pilates equipment, the resistance is not intended to be overpowered. Sometimes the lightest setting on the reformer is the most challenging for core muscles. Thoughtful movement is the key to a deeper level of fitness.
“The Pilates training at Forever Fit Foundation is outstanding. They have state of the art Pilates Reformers, Barrels, Cadillacs, etc. The trainers are extremely knowledgeable, friendly, empathetic, demanding, and effective. We look forward to our weekly sessions. We believe it is an investment in our well-being.” – Neal and Jane Mayer, Millsboro DE
Nancy Hawkins Rigg is the founder and owner of Forever Fit Foundation, a personal training business specializing in Pilates, Gyrotonic, Gyrokinesis, Yamuna Body Rolling and sport specific training. Forever Fit Foundation accepts clients at three sites: Dover and Rehoboth, Del., and Mendenhall Station, Pa., just over the Delaware line. A certified athletic trainer, she earned her bachelors degree from the University of Delaware and her master’s degree in exercise science and sports medicine from Miami University in Ohio. Please call (302) 423-1816 or (302) 698-5201 to schedule an appointment or more information.