30 Jan Pilates for men
Indulge me by allowing me to tell you my story.
If you are a man reading this then well done, you are clearly someone who has overcome some of the stereotypes that I fell for in my younger days. If you are a woman keep reading, it really is ok Pilates does not discriminate over gender although interestingly it was invented by a man named Joseph Pilates.
My introduction to Pilates came at a time when I was suffering from significant injuries which limited the physical activities that I could participate it. I have been fortunate enough to train and compete at a fairly high level all my life in lots of different sports but mainly rugby and athletics so when responsibilities and serious injuries came into my life and my passion for sport was taken away it took me a while to realise just how much I had lost.
What Pilates did for me was to help ‘relearn’ how to move my body again. That may sound crazy but so many of us move inefficiently and this can sometimes lead to injury.
There are significant parts of our bodies that are chronically underused with our modern lifestyles. It is not uncommon to hear of people spending 8 hours a day 5 days a week sitting in front of a computer (I hear some of you shout “yeah wimps we spend 10hrs a day to get our work done”).
Camaraderie, physical fitness, weight loss, mental clarity, stress reduction, appetite suppression and increased mobility are all benefits that so many people miss out on by not engaging in regular exercise programmes.
For me personally the reduction in my mobility became apparent in day to day activities. At the time I had a motorbike but riding that bike started to present some problems. My belly would rest nicely on the fuel tank which would be in the way when I was changing body position and that was after struggling to get my leg over the bike in the first place. Getting in and out of cars was becoming a performance and even putting on socks could no longer be achieved without sitting down.
Men are traditionally not supposed to be ashamed of being overweight but I certainly was. A part of your self confidence comes from knowing you have been disciplined enough to consistently look after your body, the vehicle we have to keep for our whole lives.
As a healthcare professional I regularly see and hear from people who think that health technology will provide answers to a sedentary life. A significant number of people are completely unaware of how invasive the vast majority of surgical interventions are and the reality that we rarely ever improve upon what nature has provided for us.
Pilates was something my wife did. She told me about the benefits but to me with the mindset I had at the time, it didn’t count as exercise. A lifetime of high intensity workouts taught me that ‘hard work’ pays off when it comes to physical activity. What I learnt from Pilates is that ‘smart work’ pays off even more.
Smart work to me means engaging in activities that give back to your body more than break it down. This is not the preserve of Pilates, other activities such as Yoga, mobility exercises and swimming can also fall under that banner.
The rehab that Pilates offers is tremendous and this is the reason that our physiotherapists are trained in Pilates which we use as a tool to help our clients. By engaging with your core in a safe and progressive manner it has direct benefits to your posture, mobility and general feeling of well being. The use of the breath, the active engagement required to activate very specific muscle groups separates Pilates from other activities.
A Consultant in Orthopaedic medicine I work with made a statement that has struck a chord with me. “You can invest in your health or invest in your treatment but one way or the other you have to invest in you”.