Warning!!! The following blog post may contain traces of generalisation and moderate sexism.
As a man, rock up to a Pilates class and you are in the minority. This is a far cry from its origins where Pilates was 'invented' by a man and 60% of his clients were male. So what has changed?
It could be argued that nowadays men are more concerned with gaining muscle bulk opposed to the functional fitness which something like Pilates gives. I personally don't think this is the reason as I have spoken to many guys who say they'd love to try Pilates. Although they wouldn't like to admit it, I think that for many it is a daunting thought to enter a class they've never done, whilst facing the possibility of being the only man there. Many a male ego struggles with the possibility that a woman may be better than him at something; in public at least. And then there's the preconceived notion that you will be the only guy there. How do you know that if you've never been? So it's time to drop the male pride and labels of 'masculinity' to see what Pilates can do for you.
1. Pilates helps to strengthen the lesser used muscles in the body;
the stabilisers rather than the big, mover- 'show'- muscles that men like to work on in the gym. It is incredibly important to work both sets of muscles; the larger muscles need the stabilising muscles in order to function as efficiently as possible. This will also help get quicker gains on the muscles you're working at the gym- take the simple bicep curl- if you were to allow your arm to move at the shoulder joint whilst performing this you will not use your bicep to its full range of motion and therefore won't be working it as hard. Pilates will help improve your form at the gym.
2. A lot of exercises in Pilates target areas that are troublesome for guys.
Like it or not, men and women ARE DIFFERENT! For example, women's bodies are designed for childbirth so have more mobility in the pelvic/hip area to help facilitate this. The male ego doesn't like struggling in class to do something that women are doing with ease, but this means it is giving greater benefits. In classes I love doing strength exercises and hate exercises needing good flexibility, but this just shows me that those are the areas I need to work on most. In time there will be something new that I dislike doing, which will then be the new area I need to focus on.
3. You will increase your 'core' strength.
I use that generic gym term here to help you know what we are talking about, but in Pilates terminology you will have a stronger centre. A lot of activities that guys do need this; sports, work, hobbies etc. With a stronger centre you will get more enjoyment out these things, as well as giving you anatomical benefits such as improving posture. Much is written about the importance of the 'core' so I will not go into details here.
4. You will be more aware of your own body.
I'm throwing another generalisation out there that women are more aware of their own bodies than men. Pilates helps you get inside your body by focusing on the micro and not the macro. In an exercise you are often focussed on using a tiny muscle which takes a great awareness. This awareness of your own body will help you not only in a physical sense but also on an emotional and possibly spiritual level. I'm going to shock the guys out there; women love a man who is in touch with his emotions. It is not only an attractive quality to possess but also incredibly beneficial to your life.
5. Pilates will make you happier.
This awareness or consciousness will arguably bring a greater depth to your life. You will experience a greater range of emotions and possibly feel things inside you that you never knew even existed. Pilates will help you bring this awareness into everyday life which in turn helps to keep you in the present moment; much has been written on the psychological benefits of staying in the present. And if you think that's all mumbo jumbo you will still get a release of endorphins whilst exercising which will also make you feel better inside.
6. Your flexibility will improve whilst building strength.
Gym workouts require a stretching session after or you will lose mobility. I, like many, used to regularly skip this bit out as it was 'boring'. The beauty of Pilates is that a lot of exercises are improving your mobility at the same time as increasing your strength!
7. And finally, the deal breaker...you will be better in bed!
I'm sure you can figure out how a stronger 'core' and greater flexibility will make you a better lover, but we've neglected one thing until now; pelvic floor. Pilates will strengthen and bring awareness to this muscle area as part of your centre. There are many sexual benefits to this including preventing ED (erectile dysfunction) and helping delay ejaculation. If you don't believe me check it out here.
So guys...leave that male pride at the front door and give Pilates a try! Get in touch if you would like to know more :)
Sexism over and out!