If you think pilates is an exercise only for girls, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, the exercise is especially effective for building core strength, blasting abdominal fat, and boosting overall sports performance – areas of fitness that most guys definitely can relate to, says Candice Chin, fitness director of Singapore Pilates Fitness.
Pilates trains and strengthens the body through continuous controlled movements. Specifically, it trains seven key physical performance factors, including posture, balance, stability, flexibility, coordination, endurance and functional strength. And although the movements in the exercise are slow and highly controlled, they are by no means easy to do. Says Chin: “Performing these precise movements in the correct posture will engage rarely used muscles, which is very challenging – especially for beginners.”
And it’s these seven key physical performance factors that will have an important impact on your physical fitness and sports performance. Find out why some professional sports personnel are such fans of Pilates.
Pilates Boosts Sports Performance
Professional athletes such as Tiger Woods and American basketball star Jason Kidd are pilates buffs. “All athletic movements rely on movement efficiency. Inefficient movements for endurance sports waste energy; repetitive and excessive movements cause fatigue and injury,” Daniel Dittmar, director of Focus Pilates.
In sports such as golf and tennis, the athlete coordinates multiple joints and muscles to function perfectly together to create a consistently good movement. “For golfers, their emphasis is usually on rib cage rotation, shoulder mobility and especially abs strengthening – so that they can maintain a perfect posture during the swing. And pilates specifically helps to enhance those aspects,” Chin says.
“For tennis and other racquet games, players use the exercise to focus on developing shoulder and spinal mobility, and to strengthen their arms, abs and back core muscles. It also promotes correct posture.”
Chin adds: “Furthermore, there are more than 500 exercises in pilates that are still being continually improved by sports doctors, physiotherapists and fitness professionals worldwide. So pilates would probably play a greater role in enhancing sports performance in the future.”
Pilates Builds A Harder Core
Pilates will not build bulging muscles. “Instead, it works on strengthening and toning your muscles from within,” says Chin. “It emphasises re-balancing the muscles around the joints, and correcting muscle imbalances that leads to injury.”
The muscles that can get the most benefit from pilates are the core muscles. “Pilates strengthens the core muscles, which includes the abdominal and back muscles,” Chin says.
During a session, exercises are done on a mat or with props, such as a foam roller or resistance ring.
Iduma Ortega, a pilates instructor, formerly of Sky Pilates, says: “These props may be necessary to accurately target those specific muscles, to achieve the desired results. They make the exercises easier or more difficult depending on the fitness level of the person performing the exercise.”
Explains Chin: “Exercises that target your core help to promote correct posture, giving you greater stability and allowing you to generate more power in your movements.”