Pilates for Men
It is ironic how many misconceptions there are out there regarding who Pilates benefits and who should participate. One of the most common ones is that it is a female only discipline. Considering the founder himself is a man you can understand why it is a very misinformed assumption. It seems that once the media got hold of Pilates as an exercise discipline only the history of it being used for dancers was made aware. The truth is Joseph Pilates taught people from all walks of life, and yes that includes those of the male sex. Mr. Pilates was obsessed with health and his method benefits both men and women.
Probably one of the most obvious benefits for men doing Pilates is that it increases the body’s flexibility and range of movement. Although both men and women can lack mobility in the body this does tend to be a male dominant issue. Men have more muscle mass, more of the muscle building hormone testosterone and a different skeletal structure. The Pilates discipline focuses an elongating the muscles to the bones by applying the opposing force principle of the “two-way stretch”. Every exercise has an eccentric component. This means a muscle is in an active lengthened position whilst the powerhouse supports the body. Imagine your muscles are like an elastic band and you are stretching them from a fixed point.
Sporting activities such as cycling and running have become very popular in the last few decades. Even participating in sports on a social level makes looking after your body important to prevent injuries. As we get older our bodies do not bounce back as fast as they did in one’s younger years. To push your body during the weekend and then sit in an office the rest of the week is a recipe for disaster. Both men and women enjoy social sporting ventures, however as we mentioned in the above paragraph men tend to be more susceptible to injuries due to lack of mobility. Pilates works the body in a balanced fashion. Injuries are often due to muscles being overworked or underworked. Pilates aims to lengthen and strengthen all of the muscles in the body from the powerhouse to create ideal alignment in the body. Take soccer for example. This is an extremely popular sport all over the world and requires strength, power, coordination and control. The lateral movements involved in such a sport require not only a strong powerhouse but hip mobility and strength. Then we have the very social gentleman’s sport that is golf. Sports such as golf are very one sided and if one does not make an effort to counterbalance problems will arise. Overall Pilates offers men an opportunity to continue playing their favorite sport in a social or competitive environment both more effectively and for longer.
Lower Stress Levels
The 21st Century continues to grow more materialistic and work orientated as the years go by. People suffering from anxiety and depressive disorders is at an all-time high and unlike women, many men are unable to express feelings. Pilates stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which gives you that “feel good” feeling after a class. Working the spine in different planes of movement stimulates this. The focus needed to perform Pilates exercises forces you to tune in to the moment. It takes your mind off the external pressures and inward to your body. It’s a form of active meditation. Men who feel they are unable to verbalize internal and external pressures can benefit hugely from this mental and physical release.
Pilates Apparatus and Props
Yoga stretches you so why is Pilates that different? Well it is actually, very different but we will elaborate on that in another article. Most Pilates studios offer various pieces of equipment that assist and challenge the individual by using a system of pulleys and springs.This is especially beneficial to men that have tight muscles. This allows men to get into positions that would otherwise be impossible on the mat. For example, bringing your legs over head on the mat requires spinal articulation, core control, scapular stability and hamstring length. This can be done fully or modified on the Pilates reformer. All Pilates props and apparatus were designed to help lengthen and strengthen the individual to eventually be able to perform the work against gravity on the mat.
To conclude we have looked at any reasons why Pilates is good for men. Specifically, to improve mobility, enhance competitive and social sporting endeavors, de-stress from daily pressures and to increase overall strength in a balanced fashion by using the mechanically brilliant Pilates apparatus.