Only 15% of pilates goers are men. This low figure probably reflects the misguided perceptions that “pilates is for chicks”, and “it’s not real exercise”. What many people don’t realise is that Pilates was invented by a bloke, for blokes, It pays to start with a look at the man himself. Joe Pilates was in every respect a ‘manly-man’, who was in exceptional shape himself He helped World War 1 vets and post flu epidemic survivors recover from their injuries. In 1926, Pilates and his wife opened their first studio in New York City where many of their first clients came from the world of dance (which is probably where the associations of his methods and women came from).
It’s now more than seventy years since Joe started his program to improve men’s fitness and strength, and now is the time to get Pilates back on the exercise radar for everyday blokes.
So why is it that Pilates is so good for men?
1. Improved sex life.
Erectile Dysfunction is a common problem in men and this is generally due to poor pelvis floor muscles. Please read this for a more in depth explanation.In a study published in the British Journal of General Practice, around 40 per cent of the men who worked at strengthening their pelvic floor muscles for three months regained full sexual function - a further 30 per cent had improved function. The results were virtually identical to the findings of the studies that propelled Viagra into one of the biggest-selling drugs of all time. Do you need to read the rest?
2. Builds a six-pack
Most men are obsessed with getting a six-pack and when done correctly pilates will work the upper, middle, lower and oblique muscles better than any set of crunches can do.
3. Injury prevention
Pilates is a great injury prevention tactic for athletes and the exercise-conscious. Most injuries can be prevented with the right type of advice and exercises. Imagine the scenario: you’re training for a marathon and start to get knee pain three weeks before the event. You reluctantly visit the physio to be told that your knee pain is coming from your weak hip muscles. Annoyed and confused you battle through, causing some long-term damage to your beloved knee joint, which now hates you. Let your knee love you again and attend regular pilates classes.
4. Pilates improves flexibility.
Most of the guys I see in my Pilates classes play a kicking sport, which generally means tight hip flexor muscles. Flexible muscles at the hip joint will help you perform the intermediate and advanced pilates exercises, which most men struggle with due to poor movement patterns.
5. Pilates is a long-term investment for your spine.
All to often I treat an elderly man in the clinic with a stooped posture, which could have been prevented with some long-term spinal exercises. This really does go against our “arms and chest, forget the rest” mentality in local gyms. Rarely do I see an elderly man with a pectoral strain complaining of pain! Pilates aims to lengthen the spine, develop spinal control and improve posture. Like any good investment it matures with age.
There are loads more reasons why Pilates is good for guys, but hopefully these will lure a few more of you into a class or two. Just remember, if you’re able to find a physio-led class, it could really help you if you are trying to recover from a specific injury.
Plus if you are ever near Wylies baths at Coogee on a Sunday morning I run a pilates class at 8.30am. I know it’s early but it’s a start!