Written by Aileen Ross, Sports Therapist & Pilates Instructor at Halos Clinic.
Inspired by an article in the Daily Telegraph (1.) given to me by one of my male Pilates pupils entitled ‘Real Men do Pilates, too’. I wanted to explore why so often men come to Pilates as a ‘last resort’. Pilates was designed by a man (Joseph Pilates) for men (to rehabilitate German soldiers during the First World War) so when and why did it become perceived as a predominantly female pastime?
Looking at the demographic of people I have taught over the past 13 years, their age ranges from 16-89 and approximately 80% of them are female. Men often only tried Pilates as a last resort if they had tried everything else. In the case of the author of the article (Joe Shute) his physiotherapist told him if he wanted to avoid surgery and ensure the same thing didn’t happen again he had to make some major changes. However I believe that the tide is slowly changing and more men are taking up Pilates; one of my classes is now 50% male. On asking these men why they do Pilates their answers included “to help me recover from back pain and/or another injury, to counteract hours sitting down at work and to improve my performance on the golf course”.
What can Pilates offer men?
Increased flexibility and core strength -
Pilates focuses primarily on developing core strength and flexibility as well as breathing and balance within the body. By helping to increase flexibility through lengthening the short tight muscles and increasing both core and postural muscle strength it will help to prevent injury and keep the body supple.
Improved sports performance -
Pilates is also applicable to many sports e.g. improving spinal mobility and rotation in golfers, maintaining shoulder stability and mobility in swimmers, balancing out left and right side in unilateral sports such as tennis.
Recovery from injury and injury prevention -
Pilates is also an ideal antidote for those who spend large chunks of their day sitting at a desk. NICE estimates that low back pain is responsible for 37% of all chronic back pain in men (2.) . As Shute article explains humans are “evolved to move, twist, bend and roam and not sit hunched in an office chair for 12 hours a day (3.)”.
If you are a man or a women and would like to try Pilates we offer one to one sessions and classes on a Tuesday and Thursday (evening appointments available).
1. Real men do Pilates, too, Joe Shute, Daily Telegraph, p 17-19, 24.7.2017
3. Real men do Pilates, too, Joe Shute, Daily Telegraph, p 17-19, 24.7.2107