As a male Pilates Instructor, I am definitely in the minority in my industry and I have frequently wondered why it is that women make up the majority of Pilates students. After all, Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates and he definitely felt that his method was for everyone!
I think there are a number of reasons why women have embraced Pilates more than men. The most obvious reason is that Pilates has been marketed more to women in the media. This is starting to change but I still find that men are less aware of the many benefits of Pilates and have some common misconceptions about what Pilates is and how it can benefit them. I would like to dispel some of these misconceptions and encourage more men to give it a try.
Let’s start with a definition of what Pilates is about and what are the goals of a Pilates practice. The main goal of Pilates is a concept that Mr. Pilates called “Uniform Development”. The goal of a well balanced Pilates program is to organize all movements from the center and create balanced efficient movements that involve the deeper musculature of the body. A Pilates session (either one on one or in a small closely supervised group class) utilizes specialized equipment like the Universal Reformer, the Trapeze Table also called the Cadillac, the Chair, Matwork, as well as a number of smaller apparatus. Every Pilates exercise involves fundamental functional movement skills and the all have a spinal movement skill. Every Pilates exercise is considered to be full-bodied meaning that regardless of the choreography each exercise encourages the participation of long chains of linked muscles that work together as teams. The arms and legs have specific deeper muscles that link their movements directly to the trunk or core and either directly or indirectly to the spinal muscles. Frequently through overuse or improper movement patterns or poor posture, these pathways get bypassed and can lead to imbalance. If these imbalances are not addressed, they can lead to injury or pain.
In my 17 years of teaching, I have noticed that many of the men that come to me for Pilates lessons come somewhat reluctantly and only after experiencing an injury. They are usually referred by a physiotherapist or other medical practitioner because they are in pain. Sometimes they are also coerced by their wives or girlfriends who already know and have experienced its benefits. As we work together to get them out of pain and back to health and full movement, they frequently tell me that they wish they had discovered the benefits of Pilates much earlier! Luckily we are seeing more and more men in the Pilates studio and are also starting to see articles on Pilates in Men’s magazines. There are also a lot of male professional athletes that are starting to incorporate Pilates into their fitness regimens and are attributing Pilates to their success on the playing field.
Did you know that the following male athletes are also Pilates enthusiasts?
Andy Murray (Tennis Player)
Tiger Woods (Golfer)
Martellus Bennett (NFL)
Jason Kidd (NBA)
Dwayne Wade (NBA)
My male clients tend to see Pilates as a powerful tool to improve their athletic performance or to create structural changes that will relieve their aches and pains or help them to avoid age related postural problems.
So when am I going to see you in class?