Think pilates is just for women? Think again! Pilates is becoming increasingly popular among men. Here's why.
Real men pump iron don't they?
They are too macho for the likes of pilates surely?
Try telling that to the New Zealand All Blacks who include pilates as part of their fitness programme.
Or to Aussie rugby league clubs with names like the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Melbourne Storm who have compulsory weekly pilates classes to help prevent injuries.
Or what about Andy Murray? Harry Styles? Amir Khan?
And you don't have to go to the other side of the world to find professional sportsmen who use pilates as part of their injury recovery, fitness and wellbeing programmes. Premier League footballers, the England cricket team, Olympic athletes, tennis professionals, to name but a few are well versed in the benefits of doing pilates.
Joseph Pilates himself was a boxer and self-defence instructor and although dancers were among the first converts to the benefits of the Pilates Method, it's interesting to note that legendary German heavyweight boxer, Max Schmelling, was also a regular at his New York studio.
The best news of all for men is that you don't have to be a sportsman, professional or otherwise, to enjoy the benefits of pilates.
Pilates And Men
Joe Pilates developed his exercises for both men and women and around 25% of those attending pilates classes today are men.
Pilates is an effective form of exercise because it develops your core strength and improves your posture and that's something that men can benefit from just as much as women.
According to Dr Tom Crisp, a sports and orthopedic specialist at BUPA Wellness, the best way for men to improve posture and develop muscle strength is to attack the body's core muscles - those around the trunk area. Exercises that will have the most positive effect without strain are pilates, yoga and Swiss ball exercises.
"Men who want to get fit would do well to get in touch with their feminine side at the gym," said Dr Tom Crisp. "The core muscles that fitness fanatics keep talking about act like a corset around your trunk, take pressure off your back and pull all the other abdominal muscles into the right place."
His tip? Do pilates. "Take up pilates which helps balance the body. It makes small but significant differences over time to the way you stand, sit and walk by focusing on exercises that work the abdominal, back and pelvic floor muscles."
Those core muscles which pilates targets so perfectly can help alleviate back problems and help develop a flat stomach. Two things that top the list of many a man's health and fitness wish list.
Most pilates studios offer mixed pilates classes and an increasing number offer men only classes. One to one classes are also available.
Pilates can also be performed at home with either a DVD or a book as your guide, but if you can get along to a class so that a professional instructor can ensure that you are doing the movements correctly so much the better.
So remember. Real men do pilates. So why not join them today!
Getting Started With Pilates
The best way to get started with pilates is to join a class and learn the basics from a qualified pilates teacher.
Pilates classes are held up and down the country, either in studios equipped with specialist exercise equipment or in village halls and sports centres where mat work often takes precedence. Our Pilates Studio And Class Directory will point you in the right direction.
There are also DVDs and books available specifically for men to practise pilates at home. The Pilates Shop stocks hundreds of pilates titles as well as equipment such as mats and balls.