I would like to de-myth the pre-conceived notions that Pilates is “only for rehab”, “ it’s similar to yoga”, “its not challenging”, “it’s a female thing-intimidating”, “it won’t build endurance”, “its too expensive”, “it’s boring” and so on.
I could write a blog with tons of kineseology data to support the benefits of Pilates but I would rather speak more from my personal experiences.
Please do not assume that all Pilates classes are created equal. As with all forms of exercise, your choices are based on tangible results, your ability to relate to your instructor and vise versa. Is it interesting, mentally and physically demanding, or just the same routine? Do you feel exhilarated? Do you notice more strength and agility when you hike, run, golf, ski, bike? Are you complemented on your posture? I encourage you to take advantage of this incredible body of work. You have some of the best and most qualified teachers at your fingertips and many options. This is the reason we continue to win the Pac Sun’s Best of Marin.
Why would a male in his mid-twenties preparing for major league baseball train with me twice a weak? So he can pitch from the core not just his extremities, because he wants to understand his body mechanics so he can prevent injuries from repetitive motions… so the swing gets its power and accuracy from timed breath and the precision and control Pilates provides.
This why the Raiders do it, Olympic athletes do it and yes, people seeking relief from pain. It reaches the full spectrum of the population like my 94 year old client I have been training for over a decade. She climbs those stairs because she can!
The January/February issue of Pilates Style Magazine highlights two male Olympians and how Pilates is helping them to go for the gold.
Here is a great quote from Shani Davis, speed skater, medal winner:
His coach criticized his weak abs and hips so he decided to try a Pilates mat class. “It was such a challenge! 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”. He continues to do Pilates knowing strong thighs need to be supported by his core, flexibility, range of motion and lower abdominal strength.”
Billy Demong, Nordic combined medal winner discovered Pilates 12 years ago: He really sums it up nicely.
“With (the modern Nordic style of cross country skiing), you’re basically using your entire body to produce energy, using your upper body to propel yourself forward. It’s very much like the same T shape you have with a neutral spine, and you activate your transverse abdominals and let your six-pack muscles do the work. It helps to directly transfer power of the legs and arms into forward momentum.”
I love this last sentence! This transfer of power creates winners!
Pro athletes Darren Sproles of the New England Saints and Gerald McCoy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do Pilates one to three days a week during off- season. Obviously, these athletes were extremely powerful already but as one of their instructors, Stephanie Scarbrough says, “in their other training, there is a lot of emphasis on strengthening their big, dynamic muscles. In Pilates we are helping strengthen the smaller stabilizing muscles that support the skeletal structure. When the stabilizing muscles do their job correctly, the larger muscles can perform to the best of their ability and aid in their recovery.”
Can you visualize how this might benefit you? Try something new-you might like it.Written by Johanna Baumbach, Master Pilates Instructor at Body Kinetics Mill Valley
References: Anne Marie O”Connor, The Olympic Advantage, Pilates Style Magazine, January/February 2014, vol. 11, no.1, 2014 Resource Guide, The Guys Issue.
Beth Joohnson, Pilates Takes the Field, Pilates Style Magazine, November/December 2013, vol.10, no.6, Football Fever.