Pilates: The Kick-Ass Core Workout Many Don't Do 2015-03-31
"Since I've done Pilates, I'm much better looking and 4 feet taller.” - Rich Beem, Former Professional Golfer
I recently took a Pilates class at my gym. It was the first I had ever taken. We’ve had a lot of Pilates instructors purchase Core Flytes and create classes with them, so I figured I ought to gain a first-hand understanding of what Pilates is all about. I walked in to the class thinking this was going to be a breeze. I walked out humbled and better-educated about the challenges and benefits of Pilates.
Contrary to What Many Think, Pilates is Not Just for Women
“I have been teaching Pilates for 14 years,” says Master Pilates Instructor Johanna Baumbach. “During this time, I have seen a few handfuls of men take advantage of what we can offer. Those who have remained loyal have seen major transformations.” There are many misnomers about Pilates: from “it’s a female thing,” to “it’s too easy,” to “it’s boring.” I’m not sure there’s anything more “manly” than how Pilates began. Joseph Pilates originally created the fitness regimen named after him to train soldiers and police in Europe. He wanted them to have a stronger core, a solid posture, and improved balance and coordination.
Real Men Do Pilates
Olympic champion speed skater Shani Davis incorporates Pilates into his training regimen. Davis recalls his first Pilates session: “The teacher was crazy strong. I was one of only two males and I realized all the ladies were whipping me. My male ego kicked in, I can’t let these ladies beat me. I had a lot of respect for it from that first day—especially as I was sore for a month after that first time.” Muscular athletes and celebrities, including NBA Superstar LeBron James and super-middleweight boxing champ Andre Ward, are Pilates enthusiasts. Rich Beem, winner of the 2002 PGA Championship, said, "Since I've done Pilates, I'm much better looking and 4 feet taller. Seriously, I'm now so stretched out and have such great posture that I look and feel like a different person."
Pilates is All About the Core
There are over 500 formal movements in the Pilates system. These exercises are dedicated to strengthening core muscles. Side effects include improved posture, standing taller, improved concentration, lower stress, reduced back pain, and increased flexibility. As I wrote in a blog a few weeks ago, “the core is a facilitator. It controls the force of other muscles in our bodies.” It is all about control, rather than force. It is no surprise that Joseph Pilates called his method “Contrology,” as it requires one to have control over body mechanics, breathing, and posture. A stronger and more flexible core helps us have this control.
You Don’t Need a Lot of Equipment
It is possible to perform a Pilates workout without any equipment. The class I went to had no equipment and it certainly served its purpose. There are, however, many forms of apparatuses to help facilitate the control and movement required. Smaller forms of equipment used for Pilates include Pilates mats, resistance bands, balance balls, and Core Flytes. Many Pilates classes use large machines known as reformers, which typically cost a few thousand dollars.
No excuses, right? Then give it a try! We'd love to hear from you. Tell us about your experience with Pilates? Comment below or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness, or tweet us at @flytefitness.
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