Works for Men
Works for Men
Core strength, flexibility and uniform toning.
We could all use that, right?
If you think Pilates is just stretching for women with a dancer’s body, you’re probably not alone. But you're definitely wrong. While women are drawn to the practice for its all-but-guaranteed results, guys can reap the same benefits. Which include everything from strength and coordination to balance and flexibility. Not to mention, mental clarity and better posture. It's no wonder that the biggest names from the world of sports—we're talking about LeBron James, Antonio Brown, Tiger Woods and David Beckham—have been spotted on the reformer machines. If you've got back pain, tight muscles or want to appear taller and more toned ... then Pilates is for you, my friend. Still need convincing? It was created by a dude. Joseph Pilates developed the discipline back in the early part of the last century, naming it Contrology because he felt his method uses the mind to control the muscles.
What Pilates WillDo for You ...
The emphasis on core training makes Pilates an incredibly effective technique for whole-body fitness. And it builds a rock solid foundation for cross training or other kinds of sports and fitness disciplines. You might be a bit wobbly at first. And that's because every Pilates exercise focuses on using your core to power movement throughout your body and limbs. Pilates will often isolate your transverse abdominals, the base ab muscle under your burgeoning six-pack.
It's not surprising, but the muscles we rely on for daily movements are stronger than other underutilized muscles. And it's not uncommon for active, gym-going men to develop body imbalances consisting of a strong chest and shoulders with weak backs and underdeveloped legs. Pilates tends to focus on those muscles that don't typically get a lot of attention and many of the movements consciously engage and tone the muscles you don't train while lifting. What's more, the practice has long been credited with lengthening and toning muscles for a longer, leaner frame.
Improve Flexibilityand Balance
In general, the more muscle mass you have, the less flexible you are. But Pilates addresses flexibility in a way that men often feel comfortable with because it incorporates more functional fitness. The focus on stretching in Pilates helps prevent injuries and muscle strains, while increases range of motion. There are no strange or intimidating yoga pretzel twisting stretches here. What you will experience is an opening up of tight hip flexors—activating the back and glutes, while improving spinal mobility and overall control of your body.
You'll come to realize that Pilates requires more than just flexibility and strength. It demands your attention. To do this well (and not hurt yourself), you'll need to bring your awareness to every movement and every breath. To that point, such exacting alignment and functional training (going beyond the standard vanity muscles) requires more focus and micro-adjustments than some men are used to doing in the gym. These aren't exercises you "power through." In Pilates, the controlled, well-aligned movement is the ticket to a deeper level of fitness—and a clearer, calmer mind when you're done.
How to Do It
The best way to learn is to take a class. Balanced Body has a wide range of videos you can stream, from introductory workouts to more advanced movements and exercises. And Apple Fitness+ now has workouts, led by former NFL running back Darryl Whiting. Or look for a Club Pilates studio near you. With more than 750 active studios, they offer classes to suit any fitness level.
NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected by the editorial team. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.