15 Aug Pilates is good for men too
Pilates for men
The big boast of Pilates is that it strengthens and tones muscles without making them bulky, which is probably why it’s long been coded a workout for girls.
Needless to say, it’s as good for men as it is for women. If you’re a guy who’s never attempted Pilates, here’s what you’ll realise minutes into your first class: “How weak you actually are,” says Bodylove Pilates founder Ali Handley, whose Sydney studio recently kicked off men-only reformer classes.
Handley explains men tend to generate power from big muscle groups like the lats, pecs, and quads. Pilates, especially reformer, switches those off — forcing smaller, neglected stabiliser muscles into action. It’s pretty confronting when you can deadlift 100-plus kilos but bodyweight Pilates reduces you to a quivering mess.
Breath and control
The big reason you should do Pilates is because it sharpens what’s scientifically known as proprioception also known as mind-body connection. That means it teaches you conscious awareness of how your body is moving, and the importance of breathing and muscle release, which all makes you less unco-ordinated.
“Everything [in Pilates] is controlled,” says Handley, who likens classes to “moving meditation” because of the mental focus they demand.
Pilates for first-timers
Yes, you can start Pilates even if you have the flexibility of a steel rod, and/or if you’re coming back from injury. “It works hand-in-hand with physiotherapy, because it’s grounded in anatomy,” says Handley.
Three most useful cues I’ve learned from Pilates
Tuck your tail between your legs. This one transformed my plank, the ultimate Pilates move. Tail-tucking tilts up your hips, flattens your lower spine, and transfers the weight deep into your abs. If your lower back hurts when you plank, try this cue while sucking your bellybutton to your spine. (You’ll achieve a similar effect by lying face up and pressing your spine into the floor.)
Lace your corset tight. This cue teaches you to brace your core, a seriously underused skill.
Lengthen from the crown of the head, like you’re a puppet being pulled up from a string attached to the top of your skull. It helps align your spine during Pilates and other forms of training, and also improves posture. Who doesn’t want an inch or two added to their height?
This is an excerpt from an article by Sam Downing (qualified personal trainer) that featured in Executive Style in The Age – 30th July 2019.
Pilates at Brighton Spine and Sports Clinic is fully supervised by physiotherapists and osteopaths within our clinical pilates studio. Pilates is part of exercise based therapy to help you return from injury or improve your fitness and wellbeing. Speak to our reception team about making an individual initial consultation.