Female-focused, slow-paced, lots of stretching, too much like yoga – these are the complaints men tend to give whenever Pilates is recommended to them.
Lindsey Corrado-Sampson, a pilates instructor at Bodytree Studio in Abu Dhabi, said men also tend to associate the practice with rehabilitation from injury, viewing it as unnecessary if they are not in pain or experiencing any injuries.
“Men are also performance-driven and like to follow strength-training programs that yield results they can see quickly,” she says. “Many men believe they would not be able to achieve the same results as quickly or efficiently through Pilates as they would through a more intense exercise program.”
Maybe it’s the marketing, maybe it’s a lack of information, but the men are missing out, and Corrado-Sampson, who taught a sold-out weekend Pilates for Men workshop at Bodytree earlier this month, aims to change that by heading up another one in August.
Aside from the obvious benefits – reducing the risk of injury and sculpting and toning the muscles – there are a ton of other reasons to take up Pilates.
The golfer Tiger Woods, the British cricket team and tennis player Andy Murray are among the male athletes who do Pilates. Murray, who sometimes travels with his Pilates instructor, turned to it after undergoing back surgery in 2013 – and found many added benefits.
“It’s helped my back a lot,” Murray told The Wall Street Journal. “People think, ‘Oh he has a bad back,’ but it can be due to having stiff hips or weak hamstrings or whatever.”
Pilates was created by a man – a German named Joseph Pilates, back in 1883 – to help build flexibility, strength and endurance. Proper breathing is a key component to the work.
And while it can help people coming back from an injury, another of the benefits Murray alluded to was the way it helps to develop muscle groups that are often neglected.
“It is important to work the deep, stabilizing muscles of the body and not just overwork the bigger superficial muscles,” says Corrado-Sampson. “This allows a person to experience a whole-body workout and keeps the body balanced and functioning at an optimal level.”
Pilates also helps improve alignment, improve posture and body awareness, build core strength and increase flexibility – encouraging a more efficient, effective way of moving the body.
“Most often we find men at the gym doing the opposite and focusing on power and ‘muscling through’ the movement,” says Corrado-Sampson. “Pilates can help a person understand the mechanics of the body and how to control movements and how to apply force in a more effective way to prevent muscle strain and injury.”
• Learn the five basic principles of Pilates, as well as some essential mat exercises, through the Intro to Reformer Pilates for Men weekend course, taught by Lindsey Corrado-Sampson. Friday, August 10 and Saturday, August 11 from 11am-1pm each day. Dh395 including VAT. For more information email [email protected].