While Pilates may conjure up images of ballet dancers and Hollywood starlets, the truth is that Pilates was developed by a man, for men.
The origins of Pilates indicates a combination of power and grace, which is present in any well-developed exercise program.
Joseph Pilates was an avid skier, gymnast, and boxer. He developed his exercise system and originally called it “Contrology,” incorporating techniques from gymnastics, martial arts, and yoga. Prior to World War I, he taught self-defense to detectives at England’s Scotland Yard. It was only after he refused to train the German army in the 1920s and immigrated to the US that his exercise system became prevalent in the dance world as Pilates.
Benefits for Men
In weight training and other fitness pursuits, men tend to over-develop the muscles needed for daily movement, especially the more superficial and visible muscles. This can lead to problems such as a chronically tight low back and hip flexors. Pilates, on the other hand, pays attention to the intrinsic, or deeper, muscles which we often take for granted. By working these deeper muscles, clients are able to gain a more balanced muscle development and increased ease of movement. This balanced development translates to a better gait during running, a stronger core while lifting, and less pressure on the knees while skiing.
Men also tend to be less flexible than women because of their increased muscle mass. This can lead to problems with athletic performance, posture, and chronic pain. A regular Pilates program can increase flexibility throughout the body without any loss of strength. This flexibility can enhance a golf or tennis swing, improve range of motion for squats and deadlifts, and prevent injuries in a wide variety of sports.
Preparing for Your Session
Attire for a Pilates session is no different than any other fitness endeavor. Most male clients prefer to wear either athletic shorts or pants, and a relatively form-fitting shirt. This clothing allows the instructors to assess posture, range of movement, and any movement challenges. Pilates is traditionally practiced without shoes, though some clients prefer to wear socks.