: Kerrie Lee Brown
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Pilates for the Sports Guy!
By Kerrie Lee Brown

as published in Beyond Fitness, Spring 2008

More and more athletes are reaping the benefits of mind-body exercise - and as a result, their game and their physique are topping the scoreboard.

With the warmer weather upon us, guys are looking for alternative ways to build strength, increase energy and get in shape for their favourite summer sport. Pilates is a great way to incorporate invigorating and challenging new moves into strength training and sports conditioning regimens.

Benefits for Athletes

Pilates helps athletes develop core strength, increase flexibility, assists in rehabilitation after injury and creates balance throughout the entire body. As a result, athletes can withstand rigorous training regimes and ultimately improve their golf drive or baseball pitch, prevent or recover from injury, and maintain an optimal weight for their activity of choice.

“Pilates works on developing kinesthetic awareness of the body, or where it is in relationship to itself, and the world around it. It also focuses on good postural alignment which will help an individual perform a movement efficiently, thus reducing the amount of unnecessary strain on the muscles and joints,” explains Moira Merrithew, Executive Director of Education for STOTT PILATES®. “Specific strengthening exercises will also help to balance the muscles around a joint and balance pairs ofmuscles from one side of the body to the other.”

Not Just for Women

Women have gravitated toward Pilates in the past, citing the desire to develop the long, lean physiques of dancers. It is only recently that men have realized the potential for Pilates training, although they still have to get past the stigma of it being “women’s exercise”. Men tend to strengthen the body from the outside rather than from the inside as Pilates does.

Generally, men have limited flexibility, weak pelvic floor musculature and a lack of postural muscles – all areas that can be targeted by Pilates practice. The endorsement of Pilates from a wide variety of male professional athletes may be spearheading the trend in male participants. These spokespeople include golfers Tiger Woods, David Duval and Steve Ballesteros; basketball star Jason Kidd; pitcher Curt Schilling; pro hockey player Carlo Colaiacovo and offensive lineman Ruben Brown, among others. These guys are helping fuel this mind-body method of exercise amongst the masses.

Pilates is particularly effective for recovering from injury. According to Matt Nichol, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pilates teaches athletes to be mindful in their movements – integrating their pelvis, trunk and shoulder girdle in a safe, challenging and progressive system. “Pilates can be a very effective supplement to an injury rehabilitation program as it provides athletes with a challenging workout without impact or excessive weight bearing,” says Nichol.

John Garey, STOTT PILATES Master Instructor Trainer and owner of John Garey Pilates in Los Angeles, trains men and women for athletic conditioning regularly. Among his most recognized clients are the band members from No Doubt and the Captain of the US Rugby Team, Mike Hercus.

Many pro athletes are incorporating Pilates into their regular training regimens. In particular, they are turning to this method for strength conditioning and the rehab of sport-related injuries. These are guys who go through intense training preseason and during the season for their sport who were perhaps introduced to Pilates while on the mend from injury – but for the most part, they are sticking with it because it works.

Pilates helps build strong, healthymuscles, improves blood flowand engages all themuscles at the right time. Itworks your body inside and out for optimal body conditioning.

“I’ve heard from many athletes that when they take Pilates, they start to think about their body and its function differently. In particular, they start thinking about their “centre” or “core”. Ultimately they find that they transfer all that they learn in the studio to the playing field – often subconsciously. We hear from clients all the time – whether they are cyclists, golfers, rugby players – that they find they have more power after taking Pilates,” explains Garey. “In general, athletes are good at what they do, and since Pilates is often a foreign activity for them, they are forced to think about what they are doing physically and mentally. It’s not like a cyclist doing a Spinning class. Pilates makes athletes get back in touch with their basic training principles and therefore expands on what they already know. The benefits are amazing – increased power, strength and mobility.”

Some great “athletic-enhancing” DVDs
for the sports fanatic

Athletic Conditioning on the
V2 Max Plus™ Reformer

As diverse as each athlete, the V2 Max Plus™ Reformer provides a versatile workout that emulates the body’s free, multi-dimensional movements in daily life.

Athletic Conditioning
on the Pilates Edge™

Boost yourworkout by using Toning Ballswhile standing, sitting, kneeling or lying on the Pilates Edge™—this powerful combination adds an extra element to strengthening the torso, arms and legs,while improving balance and coordination.

Athletic Conditioning
on the Reformer

Learn howto isolatemuscles and increasemovement efficiencywhile emphasizing core stability in two sportspecificworkouts designed for driven athletes.

Pilates for Men
Get the six-pack you’ve always wanted! It’s the full-body workout that pro athletes swear by for overall conditioning, cross-training and a strong, injuryresistant core.

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